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Intentions. — A volume of Essays. Edited 
with an Introduction by Percival Pollard. 
i2mo. cloth, $1.50 net. 

The Picture of Dorian Gray. — Portrait. 
i2mo. cloth, $1.50 net. 

The Happy Prince and other Fairy Tales. 
i8mo. leather, $1.00. 

The Ballad of Reading Gaol. — i6mo. 
boards, 50 cents. 

Decorative Art in America, — A Lecture, 
together with Letters, Reviews and Inter- 
views in Criticisms of Art, Literature and 
the Drama. Edited by R. B. Glaeuzer. 
i2mo. cloth, $1.50 net. 

The Wisdom of Oscar Wilde. — Selected 
with an Introduction by Temple Scott, 
i6mo. leather, $1.00 net. 

BRENTANO'S, 5th Ave. and 27th St., N. Y. 



Oscar Wilde 

With Biographical Introduction 


Author of " The Pleasure of Reading," etc 
Editor of " The Prose Works of Swift," etc. 




Copyright, 1909, by Brentano's 




The Editor gratefully acknowledges his indebtedness 
to Mr. Robert Sherard's "Life of Oscar Wilde" and 
to the publisher, Mr, Mitchell Kennerley, for permis- 
sion to make the extracts he has embodied in his 


Introduction xi 

Helas! 3 

Eleutheria: — 

Sonnet to Liberty 7 

Ave Imperatrix 8 

To Milton 15 

Louis Napoleon . . . , 16 

Sonnet: On the Massacre of the Christians in 

Bulgaria 17 

Quantum Mutata 18 

Libertatis Sacra Fames 19 

Theoretikos 20 

The Garden of Eros . . . . . . .21 

Rosa Mystica: — 

Requiescat • • 39 

Sonnet on Approaching Italy 40 

San Miniato ^ 41 

Ave Maria Gratia Plena 42 

Italia . . . . * } 43 

Sonnet: Written in Holy Week at Genoa ... 44 

Rome Unvisited -45 

Urbs Sacra iEterna 49 


Sonnet: On Hearing the Dies Irae Sung in the Sistine 

Chapel 50 

Easter Day 51 

E Tenebris 52 

Vita Nuova 53 

Madonna Mia . 54 

The New Helen 55 

The Burden of Itys . . . . . .61 

Wild Flowers: — 83 

Impression du Matin 85 

Magdalen Walks 86 

Athanasia 89 

Serenade (For Music) 92 

Endymion (For Music) 94 

La Bella Donna della Mia Mente .... 96 

Chanson 99 

Charmides 101 

Flowers of Gold 143 

Impressions. I. Les Silhouettes 145 

II. La Fuite de la Lune . . . 146 

The Grave of Keats 147 

Theocritus (A Villanelle) 148 

In the Gold Room (A Harmony) .... 149 
Ballade de Marguerite (Normande) . . . 150 

The Dole of the King's Daughter (Breton) . .153 

Amor Intellectualis 155 

Santa Decca 156 

A Vision 157 


Impression de Voyage 158 

The Grave of Shelley 159 

By the Arno 160 

Impression du Theatre 163 

Fabien dei Franchi 165 

Phedre . . 166 

Sonnets Written at the Lyceum Theatre. I. Portia . 167 
II. Queen Henrietta Maria . .168 

Camma 169 

Panthea 171 

The Fourth Movement: — 183 

Impression. Le Reveillon 185 

At Verona . . . ... . . .186 

Apologia 187 

Quia Multum Amavi 189 

Silentium Amoris . . 190 

Her Voice . . . . . . . . . 191 

My Voice 194 

Taedium Vitae 195 

Humanitad: — 197 

The Flower of Love:— . . . . . . 223 


The Sphinx 229 

The Ballad of Reading Gaol 253 

Later Poems and Translations 287 

From Spring Days to Winter (For Music) . . 289 
M hvov ac'Xcvov ei'ire' to 1 dUu 1 ucm'TOJ . . .291 
The True Knowledge 292 


Lotus Leaves 293 

Wasted Days 296 

Impressions. I. Le Jardin 297 

II. La Mer 298 

Under the Balcony 299 

The Harlot's House 301 

Le Jardin des Tuileries 303 

Fantaisies Decoratives. I. Le Panneau . . . 305 

II. Les Ballons . . . 307 

Canzonet 308 

Symphony in Yellow 310 

In the Forest 311 

With A Copy of "A House of Pomegranates" . 312 

To L. L 3 J 3 

On the Recent Sale by Auction of Keats' Love 

Letters . 317 

The New Remorse .318 

To My Wife, with a copy of my Poems . . . 319 

Chorus of Cloud Maidens 320 

A Fragment from the Agamemnon of iEschylos . 326 

San Artysty; or, The Artist's Dream .... 330 

Ravenna: — 335 


Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde, more 
generally known as Oscar Wilde, was born in 
Dublin on the 16th of October, 1854. The 
writer in the "Dictionary of National Biography" gives 
the date of Wilde's birth as the 15th of October, 1856; 
but I am following Mr. Robert Sherard's" Life of Oscar 
Wilde;" and as Mr. Robert Ross, Wilde's literary ex- 
ecutor, accepts Mr. Sherard's book, I see no reason for 
doing otherwise. Oscar Wilde's father was the well- 
known Irish surgeon, Sir William Wilde, and his mother 
was the famous Lady Wilde known under the name of 
"Speranza" as a poetess, and under her nom de guerre ', 
"John Fenshaw Ellis," as the writer of nationalist pol- 
itical letters to the Irish Nation. 

Sir William Wilde was a kindhearted, pleasure lov- 
ing man of remarkable mental ability and attainments, 
with a genius for his profession. He possessed however, 
such strong passions that, at times, these dominated 
him to the detriment of his professional dignity and his 
home happiness. Lady Wilde was distinguished by 
many gifts, and graces. She was an excellent linguist, 

a facile writer, a remarkably fluent and arresting con- 
versationalist. In her youth and prime she had been 
strikingly handsome; and she was a charming hostess 
in the famous house in Merrion Square, Dublin. Later 
in life, when her beauty was fading, she employed un- 
usual artifices to conceal Time's hand, and would 
"darken the room in which visitors saw her." Mr. 
Sherard quotes from an account of a visit paid to Lady 
Wilde by a Miss Cokran who says: 

" I called at Merrion Square late in the afternoon — 
the shutters were closed, and the lamps had pink shades 
though it was fully daylight. A very tall woman — 
she looked over six feet high — she wore that day a long 
crimson silk gown which swept the floor. Over 
the crimson silk were flounces of Limerick lace, and 
round what had been a waist an Oriental scarf em- 
broidered with gold was twisted. The long, massive 
handsome face was plastered with powder. Over her 
blue-black glossy hair was a gilt crown of laurels. Her 
throat was bare, so were her arms, but they were covered 
with quaint jewellery. On her broad chest was fastened 
a series of large miniature brooches, evidently family 
portraits. This gave her the appearance of a walking 
family mausoleum. She wore white kid gloves, held 
a scent-bottle, a lace handkerchief, and a fan. Lady 
Wilde reminded me of a tragedy queen at a suburban 
theatre. " 

As a child Oscar Wilde showed great precocity. His 


mother would say that he was " wonderful, wonderful." 
His first school was the Portora Royal School in Ennis- 
killen, to which he was sent when about eleven years 
of age. He distinguished himself there for his essay- 
writing, but was a dunce at mathematics. He is re- 
membered still at the school by the masters who recall 
his wearing his tall silk hat every day in the week in- 
stead of on Sundays only, as was the custom in the 

From Portora Oscar Wilde went to Trinity College, 
Dublin, matriculating in October, 1871, when he was 
seventeen years old. At Trinity he showed himself 
thoroughly versed in the classics, and received, in 1874, 
the Berkeley Gold Medal, for his essay on "The Frag- 
ments of the Greek Comic Poets." It is pathetic to 
note here that nine years later he made a statutory 
declaration before a magistrate to recover the loss of a 
pawnbroker's ticket for this very gold medal. 

In the latter part of 1874 Wilde went to Oxford, ma- 
triculating from Magdalen College. From 1874 to 1879 
he held a demyship at this college. In the Trinity term 
of 1876 he took a first class in Moderations in the Hon- 
ours School, and in the same term of 1878 a first class 
in the Honours Finals. During a vacation in 1877 he 
visited Greece and happened to chance on Ravenna. 
Here it was that he obtained the material for his poem 
which won for him on the 26th of June, 1878, the New- 
digate Prize. 


At Oxford Wilde came under the influence of Ruskin 
who was then the Slade Professor of Fine Arts there. 
He was a constant attendant at Ruskin's lectures and 
became one of the "ardent young men" who helped 
him in his practical efforts at realizing the "Gospel of 
Labour." Mr. Walter Hamilton, in his "The Aes- 
thetic Movement in England" tells how on gray No- 
vember mornings Wilde would be seen breaking stones 
on the highway and filling Ruskin's wheelbarrow for 
him. This was one of Ruskin's methods for gathering 
round him some young men whom he could impregnate 
with the spirit of his teachings. Those who did come 
came, not for the sake of the gospel, but for the subse- 
quent breakfast parties and informal talks which Ruskin 
gave in his rooms at Corpus. 

The kind of life Wilde led at Oxford may best be un- 
derstood by what Mr. Walter Hamilton printed in his 
book just referred to. I quote an interesting para- 

" He soon began to show his taste for art and china, 
and before he had been at Oxford very long, his rooms 
were quite the show ones of the college and of the uni- 
versity too. He was fortunate enough to obtain the 
best situated rooms in the college, on what is called 
the kitchen staircase, having a lovely view over the river 
Cherwell and the beautiful Magdalen walks, and Mag- 
dalen bridge. His rooms were three in number, and 
the walls were entirely panelled. The two sitting-rooms 


were connected by an arch, where folding doors had at 
one time stood. His blue china was supposed by con- 
noisseurs to be very valuable and fine, and there was 
plenty of it. The panelled walls were thickly hung 
with old engravings — chiefly engravings of the fair sex 
artistically clad as nature clad them. He was hospi- 
table, and on Sunday nights after 'Common Room' his 
rooms were generally the scenes of conviviality, where 
undergraduates of all descriptions and tastes were to be 
met drinking punch, or a 'B & S', with their cigars. It 
was at one of these entertainments that he made his well- 
known remark, 'Oh, that I could live up to my blue 
china!' His chief amusement was riding, though he 
never used to hunt. He was generally to be met on the 
cricket-field, but never played himself; and he was a 
regular attendant at his college barge to see the May 
eight-oar races, but he never used to trust his massive 
form to a boat himself. " 

At this time also he obtained a reputation for clever 
repartee and keen wit. He affected a superior air in 
his manners which irritated his fellow undergraduates, 
so that he once became the object of their practical 
joking. While at Oxford Wilde made his first essay in 
public as a writer by contributing several poems to 
Dublin magazines. 

To Kottabosy the Trinity College magazine, he sent 
AHZieYMON EPQWOE AN60E, the poem beginning, "My 
limbs are wasted with a flame;" "Threnodia;" "A 


Fragment from the Agamemnon of ^Eschylos;" "Two 
Crowned Kings ;" and "Wasted Days." To The Irish 
Monthly he sent a prose description of the tomb of 
Keats, with the poem, "Heu Miseranda Puer;" the 
poems, "The True Knowledge," "Sonnet on Approach- 
ing Italy," "Vita Nuova" and "Lotus Leaves." The 
Newdigate prize Poem, "Ravenna" was published 
in 1878. 

Before Wilde left Oxford he had become publicly iden- 
tified with what has since been called "The Aesthetic 
Movement." He wore the clothes of the "aesthete" 
a velvet coat, knee breeches, loose shirt with a turn-down 
collar and a flowing tie. He would occasionally be seen 
walking the streets carrying a lily or a sunflower in his 
hand at which he would gaze intensely and admiringly. 
He wore his hair long, and his face was clean shaven. 
According to Mr. Hamilton, the "aesthetes" prided 
themselves upon having found out what is the really 
beautiful in nature and art — outsiders were termed Phil- 
istines. In this public avowal of a connection with 
"aestheticism" Wilde became so notorious that he 
figured in caricatures in Punch, and as Bunthorne in 
Gilbert & Sullivan's comic opera "Patience." "For 
his part" in popularizing the theories of the aesthetes, 
says Mr. Sherard, "one might almost say in burlesqu- 
ing them, Oscar Wilde leaped into the public eye, 
found a publisher for his poems, and, in the event, en- 
gagements to lecture in the three Kingdoms and in 


America. The pose, such as it was, was eminently 
successful. If notoriety were sought after, it was gained 
to the fullest extent. " 

How far this attitude of Wilde's was a pose and how 
far it was an expression of the real man may be judged 
best by those who knew the poet personally. Mr. 
Robert Sherard, who was Wilde's friend for many years, 
believes that Wilde was thus but "mumming and mas- 
querading" and that all the time there was "bitterness 
at his heart." Mr. Sherard conceives his hero "feeling 
the flame of the genius that burned within him; con- 
scious of the part that he might have been playing on 
the stage of the world." He does not explain how it 
was that the genius when he came later to enjoy the 
homage of a grateful public was as little restrained in 
his expressions of egotism as he was now in his pitiful 
masquerading. Was not Wilde always the son of 
"Speranza" ? 

The poems for which he found a publisher through 
his notoriety were published in book form in 1881. The 
public accepted it enthusiastically, but the critics treated 
it contemptuously. The volume was accepted as "the 
evangel of a new creed;" but what was deemed its 
artificiality and insincerity condemned it in the eyes of 
the judges. "Mr. Wilde may be aesthetic," said one, 
"but he is not original. This is a volume of echoes, 
it is Swinburne and water." Another remarked that 
"work of this nature has no element of endurance, and 


Mr. Wilde's poems, in spite of some grace and beauty 
as we have said, will, when their temporary notoriety 
is exhausted, find a place on the shelves of those only 
who hunt after the curious in literature. " 

In spite of this adverse criticism the poems sold, 
and in four weeks there were printed four editions. 
In America the edition published there was also widely 
read, and Wilde, from the comparative obscurity of the 
walks of Magdalen, sprang into international fame. 
An offer was made him to visit the United States for 
the purpose of delivering lectures there. It was thought 
that the interest aroused toward him in that country 
would assure success for such an undertaking. Wilde, 
really pressed for money at the time, embraced the 
offer and placed himself in the hands of a lecturing 
agent. He sailed for America on the 24th of December, 
1 88 1. His lecturing tour was not a great success, 
though his debut in New York attracted a large crowd. 
America did not take kindly to him, after the first im- 
pression. The people would not take him seriously, 
and it must be confessed, he somewhat justified them 
in their later attitude. The press used him freely for 
their own purposes and succeeded in making capital 
of him. 

Wilde left America for London, a wiser man and en- 
riched by the experience. He did not stay long in 
London, but went to Paris in the spring of 1883. In 
Paris he had a harder road to travel. His affected dress, 


though much toned down, was displeasing to the Paris- 
ians who saw in him not the gentleman but the poseur. 
He remained long enough, however, in the French 
capital to impress the more modern of the literary men 
there with his remarkable abilities and his power as a 
conversationalist. During his stay he wrote his play 
"The Duchess of Padua" for Mary Anderson. The 
actress declined it and though it has been acted in New 
York and Hamburg it has never met with public favor. 
He also wrote at this time the poem "The Sphinx," 
perhaps the most remarkable piece of studied arti- 
ficiality in English poetry. In its way it is a master- 
piece, not of poetry, but of a deliberate literary exercise 
in poetical form. There is not a suspicion of spon- 
taneity of the poetic spirit in it, and yet the effect of it 
is strikingly arresting. 

Mr. Sherard tells us that Oscar Wilde's life in Paris 
was the life of a simple working literary man. He had 
not much money, but he was happy in the atmosphere 
of the city, and in his work. When he had money, 
"Speranza's" son would show himself once more, and 
he might be seen then dining at the most expensive 
and fashionable restaurants. He stayed in Paris so 
long as his money lasted and so long as he could squeeze 
any more out of a small estate he owned in Ireland. 
In the summer of 1883 he was in London again de- 
termined to do something for a living. 

He began by lecturing and visited a number of the 

larger towns in the English provinces. His reception 
was even worse than it had been in America, so that he 
was compelled to abandon this means for a livelihood. 
Fortunately the beautiful young lady to whom he had 
been paying attention, consented to marry him. Con- 
stance Lloyd was well connected, and assured of an in- 
come from her grandfather on her marriage. She 
married Wilde on the 29th of May, 1884, and the two, 
after a visit to Paris, took up their home in Chelsea. 
Here they lived for several years — Wilde occasionally 
writing for the newspapers, and occasionally lecturing — 
on the small income Mrs. Wilde received. Here also 
he completed those charming fairy tales, published later 
under the title "The Happy Prince and Other Tales" 
and "The House of Pomegranates." 

Lecturing and journalism, however, did not bring 
in sufficient to keep the house free from anxiety, worry 
and debt. Mrs. Wilde's income was not large and the 
fortune she inherited from her grandfather did not come 
to her until later. Wilde was, therefore, compelled to 
do something. At this time a firm of publishers had 
decided to launch a new woman's magazine with the 
title The Woman s Monthly. It was thought that the 
name of Oscar Wilde would lend curiosity and interest 
if he were known as the editor. Thus it came about 
that Wilde was asked to undertake editorial duties and 
become a regular worker in "newspaperdom." He 
accepted the position, and, from October, 1887 to 


September, 1889, Wilde was one of the most industrious 
and painstaking of Grub Streets workers. During 
this period he published nothing of his own writing. 
After he had severed his connection with journalism, 
he wrote that beautiful essay which is, perhaps, his 
highest expression in prose, "The Soul of Man Under 
Socialism." This was in 189 1. In 1892 he wrote for 
the Lippincott firm of Philadelphia, to their order, 
a novel which was to form one issue of the Lippincott' s 
Monthly Magazine. This was "The Picture of Dorian 
Gray," a piece of " pot-boiling, " so far as Wilde himself 
was concerned, but yet touched with his grace of style 
and finish of execution. The book has been called an 
immoral book; but Wilde certainly never intended any 
immorality. He wrote out of the fulness of his powers 
and to show that he could acquit himself well even in 
this form of literary expression. He had already written 
"Intentions," and the clever dialogue and brilliant 
paradoxes of these essays were quoted to confirm the 
impression "Dorian Gray" made on the critics. The 
book was condemned as "unmanly, vicious (though not 
exactly what is called improper), and tedious." 

In 1892 this same critic confessed his approval of 
"Lord Arthur Savile's Crime," a number of short 
stories which Wilde wrote for amusement. These 
stories were now " capital, delightfully humorous, witty, 
and fresh, sparkling with good things, full of vivacity 
and well put together." 


Wilde was now to find himself, and — to lose himself 
also. He wrote several plays which society accepted 
as the product of a dramatic genius. "Lady Winde- 
mere's Fan/' "A Woman of No Importance," "An 
Ideal Husband" and "The Importance of Being Earn- 
est" took the town by storm. The audiences were de- 
lighted with their brilliant repartee, their coruscating 
wit, their "abominable" cleverness. People laughed at 
them, says Mr. Sherard, " as they never laughed before 
in a theatre where the work of an English writer of 
comedy has been performed. Oscar Wilde transplanted 
to London the exuberant gaiety of Paris. Many people 
who had all along been hostile to him as a man and as a 
writer became Wilde's men heart and soul." This 
was not the fame of the years of the " aesthetic move- 
ment;" it was a genuine recognition of the man's 
supreme ability and fine genius. With this fame came 
wealth and Wilde lived once more as "Speranza's" 
son. In 1893 he had written "Salome" and had met 
the censor's refusal to sanction the production of the 
play. Wilde wrote the play in French, published it in 
Paris, and issued it the following year in London, in an 
English translation made by Lord Alfred Douglas. 
Douglas was then an undergraduate at Oxford, catch- 
ing at the fluttering skirts of Pater-ism which was at that 
time tripping indelicately along the Oxford High and 
by the banks of the Cherwell. He gave expression to 
his conception of Hellenicism in a magazine entitled 


The Chameleon of which two numbers only were pub- 
lished. To this magazine Oscar Wilde contributed a 
paper, in 1894, entitled, "Phrases and Philosophies for 
the Use of the Young," a piece of industrious paradox 
that had become a habit with the "clever" young men 
of the day who seemed to believe that the accepted 
truths of everyday life had but to be inverted by the 
form of the paradox for new truths to be precipitated 
in the process. 

At the time when Wilde had reached the pinnacle of 
his fame, his destiny overtook him and laid him low. 
He brought an action for criminal libel against the 
Marquis of Queensberry, and being unable to sustain 
his action, he was himself arrested and charged with 
offences under the Criminal Law Amendment Act. 
After a trial which attracted world-wide attention Wilde 
was found guilty and sentenced to two years' imprison- 
ment with hard labor. With his incarceration fell his 
household and its home. He had lived extravagantly 
and recklessly. Creditors assailed and dunned him 
for debts until he was compelled to seek refuge in bank- 
ruptcy. He was released from prison on the 19th of 
May, 1897, and immediately left for France where he 
lived under the name of Sebastian Melmoth. Melmoth 
was the hero of a romance written by Maturin who was 
a relation of his mother. 

During his imprisonment Wilde wrote what might 
be called his confession and apologia which has since 


been published under the editorship of Robert Ross, 
his literary executor, with the title, "De Profundis." 
While staying at Berneval in France Wilde wrote "The 
Ballad of Reading Gaol." This was his last contri- 
bution to literature. He lived for three years after his 
release from prison, an outcast and a wanderer. He 
died in Paris on the 30th of November, 1900 of cerebral 
meningitis, receiving the last rites of the Roman Cath- 
olic Church. He was buried on the 3rd of December 
in the Bagneaux Cemetery. 

The body of literary work left by Oscar Wilde for 
appraisement by a dispassionate posterity is not large. 
What there is of it is distributed among so many of the 
forms of literary expression that one is almost puzzled 
whether to consider him as poet, essayist, novelist, 
epigrammatist, or dramatist. Yet there is enough of 
each kind so excellent in quality that one is fain to 
believe that Wilde would have been distinguished as 
great in any one of the forms had he devoted his genius 
to it. Indeed, there are many who concede to him the 
title of poet on "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" alone. 
Others there are who deem the author of " Dorian Gray" 
and "The Happy Prince," a born tale-teller. Others 
again instance "Intentions" and "The Soul of Man 
Under Socialism" as the essays of a critical genius. 
Still others point to "Salome" and the society plays as 
the creative work of a master dramatist — so extraordin- 
ary was the versatility of this remarkable man. 


At a time of retrospection when he was writing of 
his own life and emptying his heart of its sorrow, Wilde 
looked back on what he had done and pride rose up 
in him to move him to exclaim: 

"I made art a philosophy and philosophy an art: I 
altered the minds of men and the colors of things: there 
was nothing I said or did that did not make people 
wonder. I took the drama, the most objective form 
known to art, and made it as personal a mode of ex- 
pression as the lyric or sonnet: at the same time I 
widened its range and enriched its characterization. 
Drama, novel, poem in prose, poem in rhyme, subtle 
or fantastic dialogue, whatever I touched I made 
beautiful in a new mode of beauty; to truth itself I 
gave what is false no less than what is true as its rightful 
province, and showed that the false and the true are 
merely forms of intellectual existence. I treated art 
as the supreme reality and life as a mere mode of fiction. 
I awoke the imagination of my century so that it created 
myth and legend around me. I summed up all systems 
in a phrase and all existence in an epigram." 

All more or less true, though exaggerated in the heat 
of a mind made glowing by sorrow and always prone 
to find the fine word and the balanced sentence. Even 
in his prison-cell the artist can not refrain from sacri- 
ficing truth for the sake of the epigram. Not for one mo- 
ment did Wilde believe that he had actually "summed 
up all systems in a phrase and all existence in an epi- 


gram;" but it's a fine sentence — so let it go; and there 
is just a soup9on of truth in it to satisfy the conscience 
of an artist who confessed that he gave truth itself what 
is false. 

Whether as poet, essayist, novelist or dramatist, 
Oscar Wilde was never other than the literary artist. 
Art to him was a creed; it was his Gospel. "I treated 
Art as the supreme reality and life as a mere mode of 
fiction;" and he writes these words as if he had done 
a great thing. " A work of art, " he said, " is the unique 
result of a unique temperament. " Whatever else Wilde 
may have lacked he certainly had the "unique temper- 
ament." He could place his mark on his work that 
distinguished it utterly from other work by other men 
in the same field of human expression. He had the 
sense (very rare in the degree in which he possessed it) 
for Beauty; and he had the power to embody his visions 
of Beauty. Unfortunately for him, the supreme reality 
Art proved a Frankenstein — he became the victim of 
his creed and the slave of his creature. 

"Art for Art's sake" — that perniciously interpreted 
doctrine of modernity — Wilde carried to its logical 
absurdity. Forgetting what he had himself written 
in "The Soul of Man Under Socialism," he made art 
the end and not the means of life. The doctrine he 
accepted to include life, though he knew that life was 
more than art. In later years, when he wrote "De 
Profundis" under the stress of a terrible affliction, he 


realized the awful mistake he had made — awful for a 
man with Oscar Wilde's superb power. "I take a 
keen pleasure/' he wrote, "in the reflection that long 
before sorrow had made my days her own and bound 
me to her wheel I had written 'The Soul of Man' that 
he who would lead a Christ-like life must be entirely 
and absolutely himself, and had taken as my types not 
merely the shepherd on the hillside and the prisoner 
in his cell, but also the painter to whom the world is a 
pageant and the poet to whom the world is a song." 

But in his "apprenticeship" days and in the times 
of his prosperity and fame, the Christ-like life, nay, any 
high ideal of living at all, had no part in his conception 
of Art. He believed that Art, which to him meant the 
work of creating, was in and for itself sufficient for the 
purposes of life; and he would have done well had he 
gone on under the influence of that faith alone. But 
Wilde was not a mere artist in words; he was a person- 
ality of wonderful charm and magnetic influence, 
possessing a physique handsome and pleasant to look 
upon. He delighted in expressing that personality 
so that it also should give joy, and he succeeded, as no 
other man of his time succeeded, in compelling homage 
both by his genius and the charm of his manner. 

It is one thing for an artist with high aims to live in 
a garret or retired from "the madding crowd," there 
to realize himself as artist, and quite another thing for 
the same artist to mix with the crowd in order to realize 

himself as man. Here the artist is stepping on what 
may be for him dangerous ground. The ground of art 
he may know, but the ground of life is matter for ard- 
uous exploration; especially if the artist possess those 
qualities of mind and person which attract people to 
him. The doctrine, "Art for Art's sake," has no value 
here. Let him attempt to apply this doctrine to life 
and he will go through some such experiences of ridi- 
cule that Wilde knew when he was an "aesthete." 
Let him carry the doctrine to its logical conclusion and 
Society will cease its laughter and jeering and take to 
considering him abnormal, and God alone can help 
him then — even the Christ-like life will not avail him if 
he seek to preserve himself. We dare not take life 
so unmorally; and, in the best sense, we dare not take 
art either in this fashion. 

To deny a moral purpose in Art is to lay too great 
an emphasis on the artist's side of his work. The denial 
takes no cognizance of the influence of fine art on the 
appreciator or the spectator. If a poet find joy in crea- 
ting his poem that joy is imparted to those who read his 
poem; it is the influence that emanates from all art. 
And Oscar Wilde was one of those who saw profoundly 
the truth and insisted on it, that the joy experienced 
from art was in itself the highest of moral influences. 

As creator the artist is right to insist that his purpose 
is not to make people good or bad; that his aim is to 
reveal, as Wilde would have put it, a fresh mode of 

Beauty, the experience of which shall bring joy. But 
the artist is also a living being with passions and as- 
pirations, hopes and ideals, apart from his art, and in 
common with the rest of humanity. He must dis- 
tinguish the thing called his "life" from the thing called 
his " work. " If his work bring joy in the lives of others, 
why should it not do likewise for his own life, and with 
the joy bring also joy's high moral fulfilment ? The 
fact that he is a great and "gentle artist" does not re- 
lease him from the common burden of being a great 
and gentle man. He is both creator and creature, 
and he might well take pride in the double burden his 
genius and his love have thus laid upon him. 

Oscar Wilde knew this well when he wrote "The Soul 
of Man Under Socialism. " He pleaded for freedom in 
life as he pleaded for freedom in art. Nothing can be 
finer than his description of the perfect personality liv- 
ing in freedom: 

"It will be a marvellous thing — the true personality 
of man — when we see it. It will grow naturally and 
simply, flower-like or as a tree grows. It will not be at 
discord. It will never argue or dispute. It will not 
prove things. It will know everything. And yet it 
will not busy itself about knowledge. It will have 
wisdom. Its value will not be measured by material 
things. It will have nothing. And yet it will have 
everything, and whatever one takes from it, it will 
still have, so rich will it be. It will not be always med- 


dling with others, or asking them to be like itself. It 
will love them because they will be different. And yet 
while it will not meddle with others it will help all, 
as a beautiful thing helps us, by being what it is." 

This is the life that is itself a mode of Beauty; but 
when Wilde wrote the words he was the preacher not 
the exemplar. One questions whether the Individu- 
alism this freedom of the personality implies be not 
as impossible as the Socialism it opposes. But whether 
possible or not it is a captivating ideal and fulfilled of 
the spirit of Christ's own life. Had Oscar Wilde at- 
tempted it, and failed, he would have done more to 
bring joy to mankind than all the poems, dramas and 
essays he ever wrote or could have written were his 
life prolonged to twice its span. Society, even con- 
stituted as it is, would have had a place for him; and he 
would not have thought of asking Nature to hide him 
in some clefts in the rocks and in secret valleys in whose 
silence he might weep undisturbed. 

But to say this, after all is over and ended, is but to 
confess one's self foolish and weak. Let us rather con- 
fess and acknowledge, as we have every just reason, 
that the spirit that expressed itself in "The Ballad of 
Reading Gaol," "The Happy Prince," and "The 
Soul of Man Under Socialism" was a fine spirit, "a 
lord of language" and a splendid force. The man also 
in whom that spirit dwelt, when he was most himself, 
was a glorious companion, a brilliant and enlightening 


fellow, and a brave and ready friend. It is given to 
but the very few of any age to live the true Christian 
life, and if Oscar Wilde erred he paid the full price of 
his error. We shall do him but justice, and ourselves 
also, if we find our joy in the beautiful things he has 
revealed to us to send us taking one step more for- 

" To drift with every passion till my soul 
Is a stringed lute on which all winds can play, 
Is it for this that I have given away 
Mine ancient wisdom, and austere control ? " 

Oscar Wilde asked himself this question in his 
sonnet, "Helas," at a time when he had no thought 
whatever of what Destiny held in her hands for him. It 
would seem as if the poetic spirit in him did, for one 
moment, see further than the man. But again, the 
artist with his "Art for Art's sake" stepped in and the 
man knew not that it was his daemon who was warning 
him. Not every poet can rise to the height of Shakes- 
peare, Wordsworth or Browning and find in his own 
creations the revealing grace of the Divine beneficence, 
the impetus for noble living. Did the poet but know 
it his song is as much for his own ears as it is for the 
rest of humanity. "Soil das Werk den Meister loben" 
means nothing for the poet if it mean not that his work 
shall praise the man as well as the artist. 

" . . . lo! with a little rod 
I did but touch the honey of romance 
And must I lose a soul's inheritance ? " 


Shall we answer this question of Wilde's in the negative ? 
Nay, that were to commit the sin he committed; it 
were to ignore the poet's message and the poet's revela- 
r tion. Wilde suffered because of his neglect to serve 
the Spirit of Poetry "with all his heart, with all his 
soul, and with all his might." To him was given the 
power to call this Spirit up from the deeps; but it was 
not given him to walk the sunlit heights with her. He 
tasted the honey of romance, but he did not find in it 
his daily food. He gave away his ancient wisdom and 
austere control for a mess of pottage; and he suffered. 
We, however, who meet this Spirit in his poetry must 
take care that we treasure her visitation. Let us not 
be tempted to confuse the man with the poet. The 
confusion will breed in us ingratitude and we shall 
lose our ancient wisdom also. If Oscar Wilde, the 
poet, give us joy, shall we not be grateful to the giver ? 
All that is left to him now is but this our gratitude — it 
is his soul's inheritance. We shall deny it him at the peril 
of our own salvation. We denied the man "the peace 
of pardon" and broke his heart. But it is in broken 
hearts, as the poet himself said, that "Lord Christ en- 
ters," and in the heart of the singer of "The Ballad 
of Reading Gaol," that lordly spirit had assuredly found 
a place. The heart beats no more; but his soul 
lives; that spirit that always, even when most erringly 
led, turned, and still turns, to the light of Beauty. 
That spirit we can not break; we shall but break our 


own in the attempt; for that spirit is the breath of the 
Divine in him as it is in us. The experience of its joy 
is our ancient wisdom. Our denial of it is our 
soul's bankruptcy; our acceptance of it is our salva- 
tion. "A poet's work," said another broken-hearted 
man who was also a poet of our time, "is born with his 
life, certain; but time puts away the life as a midwife 
disposes of a caul; we forget the incohate wrappage, and 
remember only the art." It is in his art that we shall 
find the best of the man we knew as Oscar Wilde; and 
it is the best in any of us that gives responsive grace to 
him who seeks for it. 

Temple Scott 





^T^O drift with every passion till my soul 

•*• Is a stringed lute on which all winds can play, 

Is it for this that I have given away 

Mine ancient wisdom, and austere control? 

Methinks my life is a twice-written scroll 

Scrawled over on some boyish holiday 

With idle songs for pipe and virelay. 

Which do but mar the secret of the whole. 

Surely there was a time I might have trod 

The sunlit heights, and from life's dissonance 

Struck one clear chord to reach the ears of God: 

Is that time dead? lo! with a little rod 

I did but touch the honey of romance — 

And must I lose a souVs inheritance? 



NOT that I love thy children, whose dull eyes 
See nothing save their own unlovely woe, 
Whose minds know nothing, nothing care to know,- 
But that the roar of thy Democracies, 
Thy reigns of Terror, thy great Anarchies, 
Mirror my wildest passions like the sea 
And give my rage a brother — ! Liberty! 
For this sake only do thy dissonant cries 
Delight my discreet soul, else might all kings 
By bloody knout or treacherous cannonades 
Rob nations of their rights inviolate 
And I remain unmoved — and yet, and yet, 
These Christs that die upon the barricades, 
God knows it I am with them, in some things. 



SET in this stormy Northern sea, 
Queen of these restless fields of tide, 
England! what shall men say of thee, 
Before whose feet the worlds divide ? 

The earth, a brittle globe of glass, 
Lies in the hollow of thy hand, 

And through its heart of crystal pass, 
Like shadows through a twilight land, 

The spears of crimson-suited war, 

The long white-crested waves of fight, 

And all the deadly fires which are 
The torches of the lords of Night. 

The yellow leopards, strained and lean, 
The treacherous Russian knows so well, 

With gaping blackened jaws are seen 
Leap through the hail of screaming shell 

The strong sea-lion of England's wars 
Hath left his sapphire cave of sea, 

To battle with the storm that mars 
The star of England's chivalry. 

The brazen-throated clarion blows 

Across the Pathan's reedy fen, 
And the high steeps of Indian snows 

Shake to the tread of armed men. 

And many an Afghan chief, who lies 
Beneath his cool pomegranate-trees, 

Clutches his sword in fierce surmise 
When on the mountain-side he sees 

The fleet-foot Marri scout, who comes 

To tell how he hath heard afar 
The measured roll of English drums 

Beat at the gates of Kandahar. 

For southern wind and east wind meet 
Where, girt and crowned by sword and fire 

England with bare and bloody feet 
Climbs the steep road of wide empire. 


O lonely Himalayan height, 

Grey pillar of the Indian sky, 
Where saw'st thou last in clanging flight 

Our winged dogs of Victory ? 

The almond-groves of Samarcand, 
Bokhara, where red lilies blow, 

And Oxus, by whose yellow sand 

The grave white-turbaned merchants go: 

And on from thence to Ispahan, 

The gilded garden of the sun, 
Whence the long dusty caravan 

Brings cedar wood and vermilion; 

And that dread city of Cabool 

Set at the mountain's scarped feet, 

Whose marble tanks are ever full 
With water for the noonday heat: 

Where through the narrow straight Bazaar 

A little maid Circassian 
Is led, a present from the Czar 

Unto some old and bearded khan, — 


Here have our wild war-eagles flown, 
And flapped wide wings in fiery fight; 

But the sad dove, that sits alone 
In England — she hath no delight. 

In vain the laughing girl will lean 
To greet her love with love-lit eyes: 

Down in some treacherous black ravine, 
Clutching his flag, the dead boy lies. 

And many a moon and sun will see 
The lingering wistful children wait 

To climb upon their father's knee; 
And in each house made desolate 

Pale women who have lost their lord 
Will kiss the relics of the slain — 

Some tarnished epaulette — some sword — 
Poor toys to soothe such anguished pain. 

For not in quiet English fields 
Are these, our brothers, lain to rest, 

Where we might deck their broken shields 
With all the flowers the dead love best. 


For some are by the Delhi walls, 

And many in the Afghan land, 
And many where the Ganges falls 

Through seven mouths of shifting sand. 

And some in Russian waters lie, 
And others in the seas which are 

The portals to the East, or by 

The wind-swept heights of Trafalgar. 

O wandering graves! O restless sleep! 

O silence of the sunless day! 
O still ravine! O stormy deep! 

Give up your prey! give up your prey! 

And thou whose wounds are never healed, 
Whose weary race is never won, 

O Cromwell's England! must thou yield 
For every inch of ground a son ? 

Go ! crown with thorns thy gold-crowned head 
Change thy glad song to song of pain; 

Wind and wild wave have got thy dead, 
And will not yield them back again, 


Wave and wild wind and foreign shore 
Possess the flower of English land — 

Lips that thy lips shall kiss no more, 
Hands that shall never clasp thy hand. 

What profit now that we have bound 

The whole round world with nets of gold, 

If hidden in our heart is found 
The care that groweth never old ? 

What profit that our galleys ride, 
Pine-forest-like, on every main ? 

Ruin and wreck are at our side, 
Grim warders of the House of pain. 

Where are the brave, the strong, the fleet ? 

Where is our English chivalry ? 
Wild grasses are their burial-sheet, 

And sobbing waves their threnody. 

O loved ones lying far away, 

What word of love can dead lips send! 
O wasted dust! O senseless clay! 

Is this the end! is this the end! 


Peace, peace! we wrong the noble dead 

To vex their solemn slumber so; 
Though childless, and with thorn-crowned head, 

Up the steep road must England go, 

Yet when this fiery web is spun, 

Her watchmen shall descry from far 

The young Republic like a sun 

Rise from these crimson seas of war. 



MILTON! I think thy spirit hath passed away 
From these white clifFs,and high-embattled towers; 
This gorgeous fiery-coloured world of ours 

Seems fallen into ashes dull and grey, 

And the age changed unto a mimic play 

Wherein we waste our else too-crowded hours: 
For all our pomp and pageantry and powers 

We are but fit to delve the common clay, 

Seeing this little isle on which we stand, 
This England, this sea-lion of the sea, 
By ignorant demagogues is held in fee, 

Who love her not: Dear God! is this the land 
Which bare a triple empire in her hand 
When Cromwell spake the word Democracy! 



EAGLE of Austerlitz! where were thy wings 
When far away upon a barbarous strand, 
In fight unequal, by an obscure hand, 
Fell the last scion of thy brood of kings! 

Poor boy! thou shalt not flaunt thy cloak of red, 
Or ride in state through Paris in the van 
Of thy returning legions, but instead 

Thy mother France, free and republican, 

Shall on thy dead and crownless forehead place 
The better laurels of a soldier's crown, 
That not dishonoured should thy soul go down 

To tell the mighty Sire of thy race 

That France hath kissed the mouth of Liberty, 
And found it sweeter than his honied bees, 
And that the giant wave Democracy 

Breaks on the shores where Kings lay couched at ease. 




CHRIST, dost thou live indeed ? or are thy bones 
Still straitened in their rock-hewn sepulchre ? 
And was thy Rising only dreamed by Her 
Whose love of thee for all her sin atones ? 
For here the air is horrid with men's groans, 
The priests who call upon thy name are slain, 
Dost thou not hear the bitter wail of pain 
From those whose children lie upon the stones ? 
Come down, O Son of God ! incestuous gloom 
Curtains the land, and through the starless night 
Over thy Cross a Crescent moon I see! 
If thou in very truth didst burst the tomb 
Come down, O Son of Man! and show thy might, 
Lest Mahomet be crowned instead of Thee! 



THERE was a time in Europe long ago 
When no man died for freedom anywhere, 
But England's lion leaping from its lair 
Laid hands on the oppressor! it was so 
While England could a great Republic show. 
Witness the men of Piedmont, chiefest care 
Of Cromwell, when with impotent despair 
The Pontiff in his painted portico 
Trembled before our stern ambassadors. 

How comes it then that from such high estate 
We have thus fallen, save that Luxury 
With barren merchandise piles up the gate 
Where noble thoughts and deeds should enter by: 
Else might we still be Milton's heritors. 



\ LBEIT nurtured in democracy, 

-*■ * And liking best that state republican 
Where every man is Kinglike and no man 

Is crowned above his fellows, yet I see, 

Spite of this modern fret for Liberty, 
Better the rule of One, whom all obey, 
Than to let clamorous demagogues betray 

Our freedom with the kiss of anarchy. 

Wherefore I love them not whose hands profane 
Plant the red flag upon the piled-up street 
For no right cause, beneath whose ignorant reign 

Arts, Culture, Reverence, Honour, all things fade, 
Save treason and the dagger of her trade, 
Or Murder with his silent bloody feet. 



F | ^HIS mighty empire hath but feet of clay: 
-*■ Of all its ancient chivalry and might 
Our little island is forsaken quite: 

Some enemy hath stolen its crown of bay, 

And from its hills that voice hath passed away 
Which spake of Freedom: O come out of it, 
Come out of it, my Soul, thou art not fit 

For this vile traffic-house, where day by day 
Wisdom and reverence are sold at mart, 
And the rude people rage with ignorant cries 

Against an heritage of centuries. 

It mars my calm: wherefore in dreams of Art 
And loftiest culture I would stand apart, 

Neither for God, nor for his enemies. 




IT is full summer now, the heart of June, 
Not yet the sun-burnt reapers are a-stir 
Upon the upland meadow where too soon 
Rich autumn time, the season's usurer, 
Will lend his hoarded gold to all the trees, 
And see his treasure scattered by the wild and 
spendthrift breeze. 

Too soon indeed! yet here the daffodil, 

That love-child of the Spring, has lingered on 

To vex the rose with jealousy, and still 
The harebell spreads her azure pavilion, 

And like a strayed and wandering reveller 

Abandoned of its brothers, whom long since June's 

The missel-thrush has frighted from the glade, 

One pale narcissus loiters fearfully 
Close to a shadowy nook, where half afraid 

Of their own loveliness some violets lie 
That will not look the gold sun in the face 
For fear of too much splendour, — ah! methinks 
it is a place 


Which should be trodden by Persephone 

When wearied of the flowerless fields of Dis! 

Or danced on by the lads of Arcady! 
The hidden secret of eternal bliss 

Known to the Grecian here a man might find, 

Ah ! you and I may find it now if Love and Sleep 
be kind. 

There are the flowers which mourning Herakles 
Strewed on the tomb of Hylas, columbine, 

Its white doves all a-flutter where the breeze 
Kissed them too harshly, the small celandine, 

That yellow-kirtled chorister of eve, 

And lilac lady's-smock, — but let them bloom alone, 
and leave 

Yon spired holly-hock red-crocketed 

To sway its silent chimes, else must the bee, 

Its little bellringer, go seek instead 
Some other pleasaunce; the anemone 

That weeps at daybreak, like a silly girl 

Before her love, and hardly lets the butterflies 

Their painted wings beside it, — bid it pine 

In pale virginity; the winter snow 
Will suit it better than those lips of thine 

Whose fires would but scorch it, rather go 


And pluck that amorous flower which blooms alone, 
Fed by the pander wind with dust of kisses not 
its own. 

The trumpet-mouths of red convolvulus 
So dear to maidens, creamy meadow-sweet 

Whiter than Juno's throat and odorous 
As all Arabia, hyacinths the feet 

Of Huntress Dian would be loth to mar 

For any dappled fawn, — pluck these, and those fond 
flowers which are 

Fairer than what Queen Venus trod upon 

Beneath the pines of Ida, eucharis, 
That morning star which does not dread the sun, 

And budding marjoram which but to kiss 
Would sweeten Cytheraea's lips and make 
Adonis jealous,— these for thy head, — and for thy 
girdle take 

Yon curving spray of purple clematis 

Whose gorgeous dye outflames the Tyrian king, 

And fox-gloves with their nodding chalices, 
But that one narciss which the startled Spring 

Let from her kirtle fall when first she heard 

In her own woods the wild tempestuous song of 
summer's bird, 


Ah! leave it for a subtle memory 

Of those sweet tremulous days of rain and sun 
When April laughed between her tears to see 

The early primrose with shy footsteps run 
From the gnarled oak-tree roots till all the wold, 
Spite of its brown and trampled leaves, grew bright 
with shimmering gold. 

Nay, pluck it too, it is not half so sweet 

As thou thyself, my soul's idolatry! 
And when thou art a-wearied at thy feet 

Shall oxlips weave their brightest tapestry, 
For thee the woodbine shall forget its pride 
And veil its tangled whorls, and thou shalt walk on 
daisies pied. 

And I will cut a reed by yonder spring 

And make the wood-gods jealous, and old Pan 

Wonder what young intruder dares to sing 
In these still haunts, where never foot of man 

Should tread at evening, lest he chance to spy 

The marble limbs of Artemis and all her company. 

And I will tell thee why the jacinth wears 
Such dread embroidery of dolorous moan, 

And why the hapless nightingale forbears 
To sing her song at noon, but weeps alone 


When the fleet swallow sleeps, and rich men feast, 
And why the laurel trembles when she sees the 
lightening east. 

And I will sing how sad Proserpina 

Unto a grave and gloomy Lord was wed, 

And lure the silver-breasted Helena 

Back from the lotus meadows of the dead, 

So shalt thou see that awful loveliness 

For which two mighty Hosts met fearfully in war's 

And then I'll pipe to thee that Grecian tale 
How Cynthia loves the lad Endymion, 

And hidden in a grey and misty veil 

Hies to the cliffs of Latmos once the Sun 

Leaps from his ocean bed in fruitless chase 

Of those pale flying feet which fade away in his 

And if my flute can breathe sweet melody, 
We may behold Her face who long ago 

Dwelt among men by the iEgean sea, 
And whose sad house with pillaged portico 

And friezeless walls and columns toppled down 

Looms o'er the ruins of that fair and violet- 
cinctured town. 


Spirit of Beauty! tarry still a-while, 

They are not dead, thine ancient votaries, 

Some few there are to whom thy radiant smile 
Is better than a thousand victories, 

Though all the nobly slain of Waterloo 

Rise up in wrath against them! tarry still, there are 
a few 

Who for thy sake would give their manlihood 
And consecrate their being, I at least 

Have done so, made thy lips my daily food, 
And in thy temples found a goodlier feast 

Than this starved age can give me spite of all 

Its new-found creeds so sceptical and so dogmatical. 

Here not Cephissos, not Ilissos flows, 

The woods of white Colonos are not here, 

On our bleak hills the olive never blows, 
No simple priest conducts his lowing steer 

Up the steep marble way, nor through the town 

Do laughing maidens bear to thee the crocus- 
flowered gown. 

Yet tarry! for the boy who loved thee best, 
Whose very name should be a memory 

To make thee linger, sleeps in silent rest 
Beneath the Roman walls, and melody 


Still mourns her sweetest lyre, none can play 

The lute of Adonais, with his lips Song passed away. 

Nay, when Keats died the Muses still had left 

One silver voice to sing his threnody, 
But ah ! too soon of it we were bereft 

When on that riven night and stormy sea 
Panthea claimed her singer as her own, 
And slew the mouth that praised her; since which 
time we walk alone, 

Save for that fiery heart, that morning star 

Of re-arisen England, whose clear eye 
Saw from our tottering throne and waste of war 

The grand Greek limbs of young Democracy 
Rise mightily like Hesperus and bring 
The great Republic! him at least thy love hath taught to 

And he hath been with thee at Thessaly, 

And seen white Atalanta fleet of foot 
In passionless and fierce virginity 

Hunting the tusked boar, his honied lute 
Hath pierced the cavern of the hollow hill 
And Venus laughs to know one knee will bow before 
her still. 

. 2 9, 

And he hath kissed the lips of Proserpine, 

And sung the Galilaean's requiem, 
That wounded forehead dashed with blood and wine 

He hath discrowned, the Ancient Gods in him 
Have found their last, most ardent worshipper, 
And the new Sign grows grey and dim before its 

Spirit of Beauty! tarry with us still, 
It is not quenched the torch of poesy, 

The star that shook above the Eastern hill 
Holds unassailed its argent armoury 

From all the gathering gloom and fretful fight — 

O tarry with us still ! for through the long and 
common night, 

Morris, our sweet and simple Chaucer's child, 
Dear heritor of Spenser's tuneful reed, 

With soft and sylvan pipe has oft beguiled 
The weary soul of man in troublous need, 

And from the far and flowerless fields of ice 

Has brought fair flowers meet to make an earthly 

We know them all, Gudrun the strong men's bride 
Aslaug and Olafson we know them all, 

How giant Grettir fought and Sigurd died, 
And what enchantment held the king in thrall 

[30 J 

When lonely Brynhild wrestled with the powers 
That war against all passion, ah! how oft through 
summer hours, 

Long listless summer hours when the noon 

Being enamoured of a damask rose 
Forgets to journey westward, till the moon 

The pale usurper of its tribute grows 
From a thin sickle to a silver shield 
And chides its loitering car — how oft, in some cool 
grassy field 

Far from the cricket-ground and noisy eight, 
At Bagley, where the rustling bluebells come 

Almost before the blackbird finds a mate 
And overstay the swallow, and the hum 

Of many murmuring bees flits through the leaves, 

Have I lain poring on the dreamy tales his fancy 

And through their unreal woes and mimic pain 
Wept for myself, and so was purified, 

And in their simple mirth grew glad again; 
For as I sailed upon that pictured tide 

The strength and splendour of the storm was mine 

Without the storm's red ruin, for the singer is 


The little laugh of water falling down 

Is not so musical, the clammy gold 
Close hoarded in the tiny waxen town 

Has less of sweetness in it, and the old 
Half-withered reeds that waved in Arcady 
Touched by his lips break forth again to fresher 

Spirit of Beauty! tarry yet a-while! 

Although the cheating merchants of the mart 
With iron roads profane our lovely isle, 

And break on whirling wheels the limbs of Art, 
Ay! though the crowded factories beget 
The blind-worm Ignorance that slays the soul, O tarry 

For One at least there is, — He bears his name 
From Dante and the seraph Gabriel, — 

Whose double laurels burn with deathless flame 
To light thine altar; He too loves thee well, 

Who saw old Merlin lured in Vivien's snare, 

And the white feet of angels coming down the 
golden stair, 

Loves thee so well, that all the World for him 
A gorgeous-coloured vestiture must wear, 


And Sorrow take a purple diadem, 

Or else be no more Sorrow, and Despair 
Gild its own thorns, and Pain, like Adon, be 
Even in anguish beautiful; — such is the empery 

Which Painters hold, and such the heritage 
This gentle solemn Spirit doth possess, 

Being a better mirror of his age 
In all his pity, love, and weariness, 

Than those who can but copy common things, 

And leave the Soul unpainted with its mighty 

But they are few, and all romance has flown, 
And men can prophesy about the sun, 

And lecture on his arrows — how, alone, 

Through a waste void the soulless atoms run, 

How from each tree its weeping nymph has fled, 

And that no more 'mid English reeds a Naiad shows 
her head. 

Methinks these new Actaeons boast too soon 
That they have spied on beauty; what if we 

Have analyzed the rainbow, robbed the moon 
Of her most ancient, chastest mystery, 

Shall I, the last Endymion, lose all hope 

Because rude eyes peer at my mistress through a 
telescope ! 


What profit if this scientific age 

Burst through our gates with all its retinue 
Of modern miracles! Can it assuage 

One lover's breaking heart ? what can it do 
To make one life more beautiful, one day 
More god-like in its period ? but now the Age of 

Returns in horrid cycle, and the earth 

Hath borne again a noisy progeny 
Of ignorant Titans, whose ungodly birth 

Hurls them against the august hierarchy 
Which sat upon Olympus, to the Dust 
They have appealed, and to that barren arbiter 
they must 

Repair for judgment, let them, if they can, 
From Natural Warfare and insensate Chance. 

Create the new Ideal rule for man! 
Methinks that was not my inheritance; 

For I was nurtured otherwise, my soul 

Passes from higher heights of life to a more 
supreme goal. 

Lo! while we spake the earth did turn away 
Her visage from the God, and Hecate's boat 

Rose silver-laden, till the jealous day 
Blew all its torches out: I did not note 


The waning hours, to young Endymions 
Time's palsied fingers count in vain his rosary of 

Mark how the yellow iris wearily 

Leans back its throat, as though it would be kissed 
By its false chamberer, the dragon-fly, 

Who, like a blue vein on a girl's white wrist, 
Sleeps on that snowy primrose of the night, 
Which 'gins to flush with crimson shame, and die 
beneath the light. 

Come let us go, against the pallid shield 

Of the wan sky the almond blossoms gleam, 

The corn-crake nested in the unmown field 
Answers its mate, across the misty stream 

On fitful wing the startled curlews fly, 

And in his sedgy bed the lark, for joy that Day is 

Scatters the pearled dew from off the grass, 

In tremulous ecstasy to greet the sun, 
Who soon in gilded panoply will pass 

Forth from yon orange-curtained pavilion 
Hung in the burning east, see, the red rim 
O'ertops the expectant hills ! it is the God ! for love of 


Already the shrill lark is out of sight, 

Flooding with waves of song this silent dell, — 

Ah! there is something more in that bird's flight 
Than could be tested in a crucible! — 

But the air freshens, let us go, why soon 

The woodmen will be here; how we have lived this 
night of June! 




TREAD lightly, she is near 
Under the snow, 
Speak gently, she can hear 
The daisies grow. 

All her bright golden hair 

Tarnished with rust, 
She that was young and fair 

Fallen to dust. 

Lily-like, white as snow, 

She hardly knew 
She was a woman, so 

Sweetly she grew. 

Coffin-board, heavy stone, 

Lie on her breast, 
I vex my heart alone, 

She is at rest. 

Peace, Peace, she cannot hear 

Lyre or sonnet, 
All my life's buried here, 

Heap earth upon it. 




1 REACHED the Alps: the soul within me burned 
Italia, my Italia, at thy name: 

And when from out the mountain's heart I came 
And saw the land for which my life had yearned, 
I laughed as one who some great prize had earned: 
And musing on the marvel of thy fame 

I watched the day, till marked with wounds of flame 
The turquoise sky to burnished gold was turned. 
The pine-trees waved as waves a woman's hair, 

And in the orchards every twining spray 

Was breaking into flakes of blossoming foam: 
But when I knew that far away at Rome 

In evil bonds a second Peter lay, 

I wept to see the land so very fair. 




OEE, I have climbed the mountain side 
"^ Up to this holy house of God, 
Where once that Angel-Painter trod 
Who saw the heavens opened wide, 

And throned upon the crescent moon 
The Virginal white Queen of Grace, — 
Mary! could I but see thy face 
Death could not come at all too soon. 

O crowned by God with thorns and pain! 
Mother of Christ! O mystic wife! 
My heart is weary of this life 
And over-sad to sing again. 

O crowned by God with love and flame! 
O crowned by Christ the Holy one! 
O listen ere the searching sun 
Show to the world my sin and shame. 



TT TAS this His coming! I had hoped to see 
* * A scene of wondrous glory, as was told 
Of some great God who in a rain of gold 

Broke open bars and fell on Danae: 

Or a dread vision as when Semele 

Sickening for love and unappeased desire 
Prayed to see God's clear body, and the fire 

Caught her brown limbs and slew her utterly: 

With such glad dreams I sought this holy place, 
And now with wondering eyes and heart I stand 
Before this supreme mystery of Love: 

Some kneeling girl with passionless pale face, 
An angel with a lily in his hand, 
And over both the white wings of a Dove. 




f TALI A! thou art fallen, though with sheen 

■*■ Of battle-spears thy clamorous armies stride 
From the north Alps to the Sicilian tide! 

Ay! fallen, though the nations hail thee Queen 

Because rich gold in every town is seen, 
And on thy sapphire lake in tossing pride 
Of wind-filled vans thy myriad galleys ride 

Beneath one flag of red and white and green. 

O Fair and Strong! O Strong and Fair in vain! 
Look southward where Rome's desecrated town 
Lies mourning for her God-anointed King! 

Look heaven-ward! shall God allow this thing? 

Nay! but some flame-girt Raphael shall come down, 
And smite the Spoiler with the sword of pain. 





T WANDERED through Scoglietto's far retreat 
-*■ The oranges on each overhanging spray 

Burned as bright lamps of gold to shame the day, 
Some startled bird with fluttering wings and fleet 
Made snow of all the blossoms, at my feet 

Like silver moons the pale narcissi lay: 

And the curved waves that streaked the great green bay 
Laughed i' the sun, and life seemed very sweet. 
Outside the young boy-priest passed singing clear, 

' 'Jesus the Son of Mary has been slain, 

O come and fill his sepulchre with flowers/ ' 
Ah, God ! Ah, God ! those dear Hellenic hours 

Had drowned all memory of Thy bitter pain, 

The Cross, the Crown, the Soldiers, and the Spear. 



THE corn has turned from grey to red, 
Since first my spirit wandered forth 
From the drear cities of the north, 
And to Italians mountains fled. 

And here I set my face towards home, 
For all my pilgrimage is done, 
Although, methinks, yon blood-red sun 

Marshals the way to Holy Rome. 

O Blessed Lady, who dost hold 
Upon the seven hills thy reign! 

Mother without blot or stain, 
Crowned with bright crowns of triple gold! 

O Roma, Roma, at thy feet 

1 lay this barren gift of song! 
For, ah! the way is steep and long 

That leads unto thy sacred street. 



A ND yet what joy it were for me 
-*"^- To turn my feet unto the south, 

And journeying towards the Tiber mouth 
To kneel again at Fiesole! 

And wandering through the tangled pines 
That break the gold of Arno's stream, 
To see the purple mist and gleam 

Of morning on the Apennines. 

By many a vineyard-hidden home, 
Orchard, and olive-garden grey, 
Till from the drear Campagna's way 

The seven hills bear up the dome! 



A PILGRIM from the northern seas — 
What joy for me to seek alone 
The wondrous Temple, and the throne 
Of Him who holds the awful keys! 

When, bright with purple and with gold, 
Come priest and holy Cardinal, 
And borne above the heads of all 

The gentle Shepherd of the Fold. 

O joy to see before I die 

The only God-anointed King, 
And hear the silver trumpets ring 

A triumph as He passes by! 

Or at the brazen-pillared shrine 
Holds high the mystic sacrifice, 
And shows his God to human eves 

Beneath the veil of bread and wine. 

[47 1 


T7V3R lo, what changes time can bring! 
-*- The cycles of revolving years 

May free my heart from all its fears, 
And teach my lips a song to sing. 

Before yon field of trembling gold 
Is garnered into dusty sheaves, 
Or ere the autumn's scarlet leaves 

Flutter as birds adown the wold, 

I may have run the glorious race, 

And caught the torch while yet aflame, 
And called upon the holy name 

Of Him who now doth hide His face. 




13 OME! what a scroll of History thine has been; 

-*-^ In the first days thy sword republican 
Ruled the whole world for many an age's span: 

Then of the peoples wert thou royal Queen, 

Till in thy streets the bearded Goth was seen; 
And now upon thy walls the breezes fan 
(Ah, city crowned by God, discrowned by man !) 

The hated flag of red and white and green. 

When was thy glory! when in search for power 
Thine eagles flew to greet the double sun, 
And the wild nations shuddered at thy rod ? 

Nay, but thy glory tarried for this hour, 
When pilgrims kneel before the Holy One, 
The prisoned shepherd of the Church of God. 

Monte Mario. 




T^TAY, Lord, not thus! white lilies in the spring, 

-** ^ Sad olive-groves, or silver-breasted dove, 
Teach me more clearly of Thy life and love 

Than terrors of red flame and thundering. 

The hillside vines dear memories of Thee bring: 
A bird at evening flying to its nest 
Tells me of One who had no place of rest: 

I think it is of Thee the sparrows sing. 

Come rather on some autumn afternoon, 

When red and brown are burnished on the leaves 
And the fields echo to the gleaner's song, 

Come when the splendid fulness of the moon 
Looks down upon the rows of golden sheaves, 
And reap Thy harvest: we have waited long. 

I Sol 


^TpHE silver trumpets rang across the Dome: 
■*• The people knelt upon the ground with awe: 
And borne upon the necks of men I saw, 

Like some great God, the Holy Lord of Rome. 

Priest-like, he wore a robe more white than foam, 
And, king-like, swathed himself in royal red, 
Three crowns of gold rose high upon his head : 

In splendour and in light the Pope passed home. 

My heart stole back across wide wastes of years 
To One who wandered by a lonely sea, 
And sought in vain for any place of rest: 

1 'Foxes have holes, and every bird its nest, 
I, only I, must wander wearily, 
And bruise my feet, and drink wine salt with tears/ 



/^lOME down, O Christ, and help me! reach thy hand, 

^-^ For I am drowning in a stormier sea 
Than Simon on thy lake of Galilee: 

The wine of life is spilt upon the sand, 

My heart is as some famine-murdered land 
Whence all good things have perished utterly, 
And well I know my soul in Hell must lie 

If I this night before God's throne should stand. 

' 'He sleeps perchance, or rideth to the chase, 
Like Baal, when his prophets howled that name 
From morn till noon on Carmel's smitten height/' 

Nay, peace, I shall behold before the night, 

The feet of brass, the robe more white than flame, 
The wounded hands, the weary human face. 

[52 J 


I STOOD by the unvintageable sea 
Till the wet waves drenched face and hairwitn spray, 

The long red fires of the dying day 
Burned in the west; the wind piped drearily; 
And to the land the clamorous gulls did flee: 

"Alas!" I cried, "my life is full of pain, 

And who can garner fruit or golden grain, 
From these waste fields which travail ceaselessly l" 
My nets gaped wide with many a break and flaw 

Nathless I threw them as my final cast 

Into the sea, and waited for the end. 
When lo! a sudden glory! and I saw 

From the black waters of my tortured past 

The argent splendour of white limbs ascend ! 



A Lily-Girl, not made for this world's pain, 
With brown, soft hair close braided by her ears, 
And longing eyes half veiled by slumberous tears 
Like bluest water seen through mists of rain: 
Pale cheeks whereon no love hath left its stain, 
Red underlip drawn in for fear of love, 
And white throat, whiter than the silvered dove, 
Through whose wan marble creeps one purple vein. 
Yet, though my lips shall praise her without cease, 
Even to kiss her feet I am not bold, 
Being o'ershadowed by the wings of awe, 
Like Dante, when he stood with Beatrice 

Beneath the flaming Lion's breast, and saw 
The seventh Crystal, and the Stair of Gold. 



WHERE hast thou been since round the walls of Troy, 
The sons of God fought in that great emprise ? 
Why dost thou walk our common earth again ? 
Hast thou forgotten that impassioned boy, 
His purple galley, and his Tyrian men, 
And treacherous Aphrodite's mocking eyes ? 
For surely it was thou, who, like a star 
Hung in the silver silence of the night, 
Didst lure the Old World's chivalry and might 
Into the clamorous crimson waves of war! 

Or didst thou rule the fire-laden moon ? 

In amorous Sidon was thy temple built 
Over the light and laughter of the sea ? 

Where, behind lattice scarlet-wrought and gilt, 
Some brown-limbed girl did weave thee tapestry* 
All through the waste and wearied hours of noon; 
Till her wan cheek with flame of passion burned, 

And she rose up the sea-washed lips to kiss 
Of some glad Cyprian sailor, safe returned 

From Calpe and the cliffs of Herakles! 


No! thou art Helen, and none other one! 

It was for thee that young Sarpedon died, 
And Memnon's manhood was untimely spent; 

It was for thee gold-crested Hector tried 
With Thetis' child that evil race to run, 

In the last of thy beleaguerment; 
Ay ! even now the glory of thy fame 

Burns in those fields of trampled asphodel, 

Where the high lords whom Ilion knew so well 
Clash ghostly shields, and call upon thy name. 

Where hast thou been ? in that enchanted land 

Whose slumbering vales forlorn Calypso knew, 
Where never mower rose at break of day 

But all unswathed the trammelling grasses grew, 
And the sad shepherd saw the tall corn stand 

Till summer's red had changed to withered grey ? 
Didst thou lie there by some Lethaean stream 

Deep brooding on thine ancient memory, 
The crash of broken spears, the fiery gleam 

From shivered helm, the Grecian battle-cry ? 

Nay, thou wert hidden in that hollow hill 
With one who is forgotten utterly, 

That discrowned Queen men call the Erycine; 
Hidden away that never mightst thou see 

The face of Her, before whose mouldering shrine 


To-day at Rome the silent nations kneel; 
Who gat from Love no joyous gladdening, 
But only Love's intolerable pain, 
Only a sword to pierce her heart in twain, 

Only the bitterness of child-bearing. 

The lotus-leaves which heal the wounds of Death 
Lie in thy hand; O, be thou kind to me, 
While yet I know the summer of my days; 

For hardly can my tremulous lips draw breath 
To fill the silver trumpet with thy praise, 
So bowed am I before thy mystery; 

So bowed and broken on Love's terrible wheel, 
That I have lost all hope and heart to sing, 
Yet care I not what ruin time may bring 

If in thy temple thou wilt let me kneel. 

Alas, alas, thou wilt not tarry here, 

But, like that bird, the servant of the sun, 
Who flies before the northwind and the night, 
So wilt thou fly our evil land and drear, 
Back to the tower of thine old delight, 

And the red lips of young Euphorion; 
Nor shall I ever see thy face again, 

But in this poisonous garden-close must stay, 
Crowning my brows with the thorn-crown of pain, 

Till all my loveless life shall pass away. 


O Helen! Helen! Helen! yet a while, 

Yet for a little while, O, tarry here, 

Till the dawn cometh and the shadows flee! 
For in the gladsome sunlight of thy smile 

Of heaven or hell I have no thought or fear, 
Seeing I know no other god but thee: 
No other god save him, before whose feet 

In nets of gold the tired planets move, 

The incarnate spirit of spiritual love 
Who in thy body holds his joyous seat. 

Thou wert not born as common women are! 

But, girt with silver splendour of the foam, 
Didst from the depths of sapphire seas arise ! 
And at thy coming some immortal star, 

Bearded with flame, blazed in the Eastern skies, 

And waked the shepherds on thine island-home. 
Thou shalt not die: no asps of Egypt creep 

Close at thy heels to taint the delicate air; 

No sullen-blooming poppies stain thy hair, 
Those scarlet heralds of eternal sleep. 

Lily of love, pure and inviolate! 
Tower of ivory ! red rose of fire ! 

Thou hast come down our darkness to illume: 


For we, close-caught in the wide nets of Fate, 
Wearied with waiting for the World's Desire, 
Aimlessly wandered in the House of gloom, 

Aimlessly sought some slumberous anodyne 
For wasted lives, for lingering wretchedness, 

Till we beheld thy re-arisen shrine, 
And the white glory of thy loveliness. 




^ | ^HIS English Thames is holier far than Rome, 
-■■ Those harebells like a sudden flush of sea 
Breaking across the woodland, with the foam 

Of meadow-sweet and white anemone 
To fleck their blue waves, — God is likelier there, 
Than hidden in that crystal-hearted star the pale 
monks bear! 

Those violet-gleaming butterflies that take 

Yon creamy lily for their pavilion 
Are monsignores, and where the rushes shake 

A lazy pike lies basking in the sun 
His eyes half shut, — He is some mitred old 
Bishop in partibus! look at those gaudy scales all 
green and gold. 


The wind the restless prisoner of the trees 
Does well for Palaestrina, one would say 

The mighty master's hands were on the keys 
Of the Maria organ, which they play 

When early on some sapphire Easter morn 

In a high litter red as blood or sin the Pope 
is borne 

From his dark House out to the Balcony 

Above the bronze gates and the crowded square, 

Whose very fountains seem for ecstasy 
To toss their silver lances in the air, 

And stretching out weak hands to East and West 

In vain sends peace to peaceless lands, to restless 
nations rest. 

Is not yon lingering orange afterglow 

That stays to vex the moon more fair than all 

Rome's lordliest pageants! strange, a year ago 
I knelt before some crimson Cardinal 

Who bare the Host across the Esquiline, 

And now — those common poppies in the wheat 
seem twice as fine. 


The blue-green beanfields yonder, tremulous 
With the last shower, sweeter perfume bring 

Through this cool evening than the odorous 

Flame-jewelled censers the young deacons swing, 

When the grey priest unlocks the curtained shrine, 

And makes God's body from the common fruit of 
corn and vine. 

Poor Fra Giovanni bawling at the mass 

Were out of tune now, for a small brown bird 

Sings overhead, and through the long cool grass 
I see that throbbing throat which once I heard 

On starlit hills of flower-starred Arcady, 

Once where the white and crescent sand of Salamis 
meets sea. 

Sweet is the swallow twittering on the eaves 
At daybreak, when the mower whets his scythe, 

And stock-doves murmur, and the milkmaid leaves 
Her little lonely bed, and carols blithe 

To see the heavy-lowing cattle wait 

Stretching their huge and dripping mouths across 
the farmyard gate. 


And sweet the hops upon the Kentish leas, 

And sweet the wind that lifts the new-mown hay, 

And sweet the fretful swarms of grumbling bees 
That round and round the linden blossoms play; 

And sweet the heifer breathing in the stall, 

And the green bursting figs that hang upon the 
red-brick wall. 

And sweet to hear the cuckoo mock the spring 
While the last violet loiters by the well, 

And sweet to hear the shepherd Daphnis sing 
The song of Linus through a sunny dell 

Of warm Arcadia where the corn is gold 

And the slight lithe-limbed reapers dance about 
the wattled fold. 

And sweet with young Lycoris to recline 

In some Illyrian valley far away, 
Where canopied on herbs amaracine 

We too might waste the summer-tranced day 
Matching our reeds in sportive rivalry, 
While far beneath us frets the troubled purple of 
the sea. 


But sweeter far if silver-sandalled foot 

Of some long-hidden God should ever tread 

The Nuneham meadows, if with reeded flute 

Pressed to his lips some Faun might raise his head 

By the green water-flags, ah! sweet indeed 

To see the heavenly herdsmen call his white- 
fleeced flock to feed. 

Then sing to me, thou tuneful chorister, 

Though what thou sing'st be thine own requiem! 

Tell me thy tale, thou hapless chronicler 
Of thine own tragedies ! do not contemn 

These unfamiliar haunts, this English field, 

For many a lovely coronal our northern isle can 

Which Grecian meadows know not, many a rose 

Which all day long in vales iEolian 
A lad might seek in vain for overgrows 

Our hedges like a wanton courtezan 
Unthrifty of its beauty, lilies too 
Ilissus never mirrored, star our streams, and cockles 


Dot the green wheat which, though they are the signs 
For swallows going south, would never spread 

Their azure tents between the Attic vines; 
Even that little weed of ragged red, 

Which bids the robin pipe, in Arcady 

Would be a trespasser, and many an unsung elegy 

Sleeps in the reeds that fringe our winding Thames 
Which to awake were sweeter ravishment 

Than ever Syrinx wept for, diadems 

Of brown bee-studded orchids which were meant 

For Cytheraea's brows are hidden here 

Unknown to Cytheraea, and by yonder pasturing 

There is a tiny yellow daffodil, 
The butterfly can see it from afar, 

Although one summer evening's dew could fill 
Its little cup twice over ere the star 

Had called the lazy shepherd to his fold 

And be no prodigal, each leaf is flecked with 
spotted gold 


As if Jove's gorgeous leman Danae 

Hot from his gilded arms had stooped to kiss 

The trembling petals, or young Mercury 
Low-flying to the dusky ford of Dis 

Had with one feather of his pinions 

Just brushed them! the slight stem which bears the 
burden of its suns 

Is hardly thicker than the gossamer, 
Or poor Arachne's silver tapestry, — 

Men say it bloomed upon the sepulchre 
Of One I sometime worshipped, but to me 

It seems to bring diviner memories 

Of faun-loved Heliconian glades and blue nymph- 
haunted seas, 

Of an untrodden vale at Tempe where 
On the clear river's marge Narcissus lies, 

The tangle of the forest in his hair, 

The silence of the woodland in his eyes, 

Wooing that drifting imagery which is 

No sooner kissed than broken, memories of 


Who is not boy or girl and yet is both, 

Fed by two fires and unsatisfied 
Through their excess, each passion being loth 

For love's own sake to leave the other's side 
Yet killing love by staying, memories 
Of Oreads peeping through the leaves of silent 
moonlit trees, 

Of lonely Ariadne on the wharf 

At Naxos, when she saw the treacherous crew 
Tar out at sea, and waved her crimson scarf 

And called false Theseus back again nor knew 
That Dionysos on an amber pard 
Was close behind her, memories of what Maeonia's 

With sightless eyes beheld, the wall of Troy, 
Queen Helen lying in the ivory room, 

And at her side an amorous red-lipped boy 

Trimming with dainty hand his helmet's plume, 

And far away the moil, the shout, the groan, 

As Hector shielded off the spear and Ajax hurled 
the stone; 


Of winged Perseus with his flawless sword 
Cleaving the snaky tresses of the witch, 

And all those tales imperishably stored 

In little Grecian urns, freightage more rich 

Than any gaudy galleon of Spain 

Bare from the Indies ever! these at least bring back 

For well I know they are not dead at all, 

The ancient Gods of Grecian poesy, 
They are asleep, and when they hear thee call 

Will wake and think 'tis very Thessaly, 
This Thames the Daulian waters, this cool glade 
The yellow-irised mead where once young Itys 
laughed and played. 

If it was thou dear jasmine-cradled bird 
Who from the leafy stillness of thy throne 

Sang to the wondrous boy, until he heard 
The horn of Atalanta faintly blown 

Across the Cumnor hills, and wandering 

Through Bagley wood at evening found the Attic 
poets' spring, — 


Ah! tiny sober-suited advocate 

That pleadest for the moon against the day! 
If thou didst make the shepherd seek his mate 

On that sweet questing, when Proserpina 
Forgot it was not Sicily and leant 
Across the mossy Sanford stile in ravished 
wonderment, — 

Light-winged and bright-eyed miracle of the wood! 

If ever thou didst soothe with melody 
One of the little clan, that brotherhood 

Which loved the morning-star of Tuscany 
More than the perfect sun of Raphael 
And is immortal, sing to me! for I too love thee well, 

Sing on! sing on! let the dull world grow young, 
Let elemental things take form again, 

And the old shapes of Beauty walk among 
The simple garths and open crofts, as when 

The son of Leto bare the willow rod, 

And the soft sheep and shaggy goats followed the 
boyish God. 


Sing on ! sing on! and Bacchus will be here 
Astride upon his gorgeous Indian throne, 

And over whimpering tigers shake the spear 
With yellow ivy crowned and gummy cone, 

While at his side the wanton Bassarid 

Will throw the lion by the mane and catch the 
mountain kid! 

Sing on! and I will wear the leopard skin, 
And steal the mooned wings of Ashtaroth, 

Upon whose icy chariot we could win 
Cithaeron in an hour ete the froth 

Has overbrimmed the wine-vat or the Faun 

Ceased from the treading! ay, before the flickering 
lamp of dawn 

Has scared the hooting owlet to its nest, 
And warned the bat to close its filmy vans, 

Some Maenad girl with vine-leaves on her breast 
Will filch their beechnuts from the sleeping Pans 

So softly that the little nested thrush 

Will never wake, and then with shrilly laugh and 
leap will rush 


Down the green valley where the fallen dew 
Lies thick beneath the elm and count her store, 

Till the brown Satyrs in a jolly crew 

Trample the loosestrife down along the shore, 

And where their horned master sits in state 

Bring strawberries and bloomy plums upon a 
wicker crate! 

Sing on! and soon with passion-wearied face 
Through the cool leaves Apollo's lad will come, 

The Tyrian prince his bristled boar will chase 
Adown the chestnut-copses all a-bloom, 

And ivory-limbed, grey-eyed, with look of pride, 

After yon velvet-coated deer the virgin maid will 

Sing on! and I the dying boy will see 

Stain with his purple blood the waxen bell 

That overweighs the jacinth, and to me 
The wretched Cyprian her woe will tell, 

And I will kiss her mouth and streaming eyes, 

And lead her to the myrtle-hidden grove where 
Adon lies! 


Cry out aloud on Itys! memory 

That foster-brother of remorse and pain 

Drops poison in mine ear, — O to be free, 

To burn one's old ships! and to launch again 

Into the white-plumed battle of the waves 

And fight old Proteus for the spoil of the coral- 
flowered caves! 

O for Medea with her poppied spell! 

O for the secret of the Colchian shrine! 
O for one leaf of that pale asphodel 

Which binds the tired brows of Proserpine, 
And sheds such wondrous dews at eve that she 
Dreams of the fields of Enna, by the far Sicilian 

Where oft the golden-girdled bee she chased 
From lily to lily on the level mead, 

Ere yet her sombre Lord had bid her taste 
The deadly fruit of that pomegranate seed, 

Ere the black steeds had harried her away 

Down to the faint and flowerless land, the sick 
and sunless day. 


O for one midnight and as paramour 
The Venus of the little Melian farm ! 

that some antique statue for one hour 

Might wake to passion, and that I could charm 
The Dawn at Florence from its dumb despair 
Mix with those mighty limbs and make that 
giant breast my lair! 

Sing on! sing on! I would be drunk with life, 
Drunk with the trampled vintage of my youth, 

1 would forget the weary wasted strife, 
The riven veil, the Gorgon eyes of Truth, 

The prayerless vigil and the cry for prayer, 
The barren gifts, the lifted arms, the dull insensate 

Sing on! sing on! O feathered Niobe, 

Thou canst make sorrow beautiful, and steal 

From joy its sweetest music, not as we 

Who by dead, voiceless silence strive to heal 

Our too untented wounds, and do but keep 

Pain barricadoed in our hearts, and murder 
pillowed sleep. 


Sing louder yet, why must I still behold 

The wan white face of that deserted Christ, 

Whose bleeding hands my hands did once enfold, 
Whose smitten lips my lips so oft have kissed, 

And now in mute and marble misery 

Sits in his lone dishonoured House and weeps, 
perchance for me. 

O Memory cast down thy wreathed shell! 

Break thy hoarse lute, O sad Melpomene! 
O Sorrow, Sorrow, keep thy cloistered cell 

Nor dim with tears this limpid Castaly! 
Cease, Philomel, Thou dost the forest wrong 
To vex its sylvan quiet with such wild impassioned 

Cease, cease, or if 'tis anguish to be dumb 
Take from the pastoral thrush her simple air, 

Whose jocund carelessness doth more become 
This English woodland than thy keen despair, 

Ah! cease and let the north wind bear thy lay 

Back to the rocky hills of Thrace, the stormy 
Daulian bay. 


A moment later, the startled leaves had stirred, 
Endymion would have passed across the mead 

Moonstruck with love, and this still Thames had heard 
Pan plash and paddle groping for some reed 

To lure from her blue cave that Naiad maid 

Who for such piping listens half in joy and half 

A moment more, the waking dove had cooed, 

The silver daughter of the silver sea 
With the fond gyves of clinging hands had wooed 

Her wanton from the chase, and Dryope 
Had thrust aside the branches of her oak 
To see the lusty gold-haired lad rein in his snorting 

A moment more, the trees had stooped to kiss 
Pale Daphne just awakening from the swoon 

Of tremulous laurels, lonely Salmacis 

Had bared his barren beauty to the moon, 

And through the vale with sad voluptuous smile 

Antinous had wandered, the red lotus of the Nile 


Down leaning from his black and clustering hair, 
To shade those slumberous eyelids' caverned bliss, 

Or else on yonder grassy slope with bare 
High-tuniced limbs unravished Artemis 

Had bade her hounds give tongue, and roused the deer 

From his green ambuscade with shrill halloo and 
pricking spear. 

Lie still, lie still, O passionate heart, lie still! 

O Melancholy, fold thy raven wing! 
O sobbing Dryad, from thy hollow hill 

Come not with such desponded answering! 
No more thou winged Marsyas complain, 
Apollo loveth not to hear such troubled songs of 

It was a dream, the glade is tenantless, 
No soft Ionian laughter moves the air, 

The Thames creeps on in sluggish leadenness, 
And from the copse left desolate and bare 

Fled is young Bacchus with his revelry, 

Yet still from Nuneham wood there comes that thrill- 
ing melody 


So sad, that one might think a human heart 
Brake in each separate note, a quality 

Which music sometimes has, being the Art 
Which is most nigh to tears and memory, 

Poor mourning Philomel, what dost thou fear ? 

Thy sister doth not haunt these fields, Pandion is not 

Here is no cruel Lord with murderous blade, 

No woven web of bloody heraldries, 
But mossy dells for roving comrades made, 

Warm valleys where the tired student lies 
With half-shut book, and many a winding walk 
Where rustic lovers stray at eve in happy simple 

The harmless rabbit gambols with its young 
Across the trampled towing-path, where late 

A troop of laughing boys in jostling throng 
Cheered with their noisy cries the racing eight; 

The gossamer, with ravelled silver threads, 

Works at its little loom, and from the dusky red- 
eaved sheds 


Of the lone Farm a flickering light shines out 

Where the swinked shepherd drives his bleating flock 

Back to their wattled sheep-cotes, a faint shout 
Comes from some Oxford boat at Sandford lock, 

And starts the moor-hen from the sedgy rill, 

And the dim lengthening shadows flit like swallows 
up the hill. 

The heron passes homeward to the mere, 

The blue mist creeps among the shivering trees, 

Gold world by world the silent stars appear, 
And like a blossom blown before the breeze 

A white moon drifts across the shimmering sky, 

Mute arbitress of all thy sad, thy rapturous 

She does not heed thee, wherefore should she heed, 
She knows Endymion is not far away, 

'Tis I, 'tis I, whose soul is as the reed 
Which has no message of its own to play, 

So pipes another's bidding, it is I, 

Drifting with every wind on the wide sea of misery. 


Ah! the brown bird has ceased: one exquisite trill 
About the sombre woodland seems to cling 

Dying in music else the air is still, 

So still that one might hear the bat's small wing 

Wander and wheel above the pines, or tell 

Each tiny dewdrop dripping from the blue-bell's 
brimming cell. 

And far away across the lengthening wold, 
Across the willowy flats and thickets brown, 

Magdalen's tall tower tipped with tremulous gold 
Marks the long High Street of the little town, 

And warns me to return; I must not wait, 

Hark! 'tis the curfew booming from the bell at 
Christ Church gate. 




THE Thames nocturne of blue and gold 
Changed to a Harmony in grey: 
A barge with ochre-coloured hay 
Dropt from the wharf: and chill and cold 

The yellow fog came creeping down 
The bridges, till the houses' walls 
Seemed changed to shadows, and S. Paul's 

Loomed like a bubble o'er the town. 

Then suddenly arose the clang 

Of waking life: the streets were stirred 
With country waggons: and a bird 

Flew to the glistening roofs and sang. 

But one pale woman all alone, 
The daylight kissing her wan hair, 
Loitered beneath the gas lamps' flare, 

With lips of flame and heart of stone. 



THE little white clouds are racing over the sky, 
And the fields are strewn with the gold of the 
flower of March, 
The daffodil breaks under foot, and the tasselled 
Sways and swings as the thrush goes hurrying by. 

A delicate odour is borne on the wings of the 
morning breeze, 
The odour of deep wet grass, and of brown new- 
furrowed earth, 
The birds are singing for joy of the Spring's glad 
Hopping from branch to branch on the rocking trees. 

And all the woods are alive with the murmur and 
sound of Spring, 
And the rose-bud breaks into pink on the climbing 

And the crocus-bed is a quivering moon of fire 
Girdled round with the belt of an amethyst ring. 


And the plane to the pine-tree is whispering some 
tale of love 
Till it rustles with laughter and tosses its mantle of 

And the gloom of the wych-elm's hollow is lit 
with the iris sheen 
Of the burnished rainbow throat and the silver 
breast of a dove. 

See! the lark starts up from his bed in the meadow 
Breaking the gossamer threads and the nets of 

And flashing a-down the river, a flame of blue! 
The kingfisher flies like an arrow, and wounds 
the air. 

[And the sense of my life is sweet! though I know 
that the end is nigh: 
For the ruin and rain of winter will shortly come, 
The lily will lose its gold, and the chestnut-bloom 

In billows of red and white on the grass will lie. 

And even the light of the sun will fade at the last, 
And the leaves will fall, and the birds will 

hasten away, 
And I will be left in the snow of a flowerless day 
To think on the glories of Spring, and the joys of 
a youth long past. 


Yet be silent, my heart! do not count it a profitless 
To have seen the splendour of the sun, and of 

grass, and of flower! 
To have lived and loved! for I hold that to love 
for an hour 
Is better for man and for woman than cycles 
of blossoming Spring.] 



TO that gaunt House of Art which lacks for naught 
Of all the great things men have saved from Time, 
The withered body of a girl was brought 

Dead ere the world's glad youth had touched its prime, 
And seen by lonely Arabs lying hid 
In the dim womb of some black pyramid. 

But when they had unloosed the linen band 

Which swathed the Egyptian's body, — lo! was found 

Closed in the wasted hollow of her hand 
A little seed, which sown in English ground 

Did wondrous snow of starry blossoms bear, 

And spread rich odours through our springtide air. 

With such strange arts this flower did allure 

That all forgotten was the asphodel, 
And the brown bee, the lily's paramour, 

Forsook the cup where he was wont to dwell, 
For not a thing of earth it seemed to be, 
But stolen from some heavenly Arcady. 


In vain the sad narcissus, wan and white 
At its own beauty, hung across the stream, 

The purple dragon-fly had no delight 

With its gold dust to make his wings a-gleam, 

Ah! no delight the jasmine-bloom to kiss, 

Or brush the rain-pearls from the eucharis. 

For love of it the passionate nightingale 
Forgot the hills of Thrace, the cruel king, 

And the pale dove no longer cared to sail 

Through the wet woods at time of blossoming, 

But round this flower of Egypt sought to float, 

With silvered wing and amethystine throat. 

While the hot sun blazed in his tower of blue 
A cooling wind crept from the land of snows, 

And the warm south with tender tears of dew 
Drenched its white leaves when Hesperos uprose 

Amid those sea-green meadows of the sky 

On which the scarlet bars of sunset lie. 

But when o'er wastes of lily-haunted field 

The tired birds had stayed their amorous tune, 

And broad and glittering like an argent shield 
High in the sapphire heavens hung the moon, 

Did no strange dream or evil memory make 

Each tremulous petal of its blossoms shake ? 

[90 J 

Ah no! to this bright flower a thousand years 
Seemed but the lingering of a summer's day, 

It never knew the tide of cankering fears 

Which turn a boy's gold hair to withered grey, 

The dread desire of death it never knew, 

Or how all folk that they were born must rue. 

For we to death with pipe and dancing go, 
Nor would we pass the ivory gate again, 

As some sad river wearied of its flow 

Through the dull plains, the haunts of common men, 

Leaps lover-like into the terrible sea! 

And counts it gain to die so gloriously. 

We mar our lordly strength in barren strife 
With the world's legions led by clamorous care, 

It never feels decay but gathers life 

From the pure sunlight and the supreme air, 

We live beneath Time's wasting sovereignty, 

It is the child of all eternity. 


(for music) 

THE western wind is blowing fair 
Across the dark iEgean sea, 
And at the secret marble stair 

My Tyrian galley waits for thee. 
Come down! the purple sail is spread, 

The watchman sleeps within the town, 
O leave thy lily-flowered bed, 

O Lady mine, come down, come down! 

She will not come, I know her well, 

Of lover's vows she hath no care, 
And little good a man can tell 

Of one so cruel and so fair. 
True love is but a woman's toy, 

They never know the lover's pain, 
And I who loved as loves a boy 

Must love in vain, must love in vain. 

O noble pilot, tell me true 

Is that the sheen of golden hair ? 


Or is it but the tangled dew 

That binds the passion-flowers there ? 
Good sailor, come and tell me now 

Is that my Lady's lily hand ? 
Or is it but the gleaming prow, 

Or is it but the silver sand ? 

No! no! 'tis not the tangled dew, 

'Tis not the silver-fretted sand, 
It is my own dear Lady true 

With golden hair and lily hand! 
O noble pilot, steer for Troy, 

Good sailor, ply the labouring oar, 
This is the queen of life and joy 

Whom we must bear from Grecian shore! 

The waning sky grows faint and blue, 

It wants an hour still of day, 
Aboard! aboard! my gallant crew, 

O Lady mine, away! away! 
O noble pilot, steer for Troy, 

Good sailor, ply the labouring oar, 
O loved as only loves a boy! 

O loved for ever evermore! 


(for music) 

THE apple trees are hung with gold, 
And birds are loud in Arcady, 
The sheep lie bleating in the fold, 
The wild goat runs across the wold, 
But yesterday his love he told, 

I know he will come back to me. 
O rising moon! O Lady moon! 

Be you my lover's sentinel, 

You cannot choose but know him well, 
For he is shod with purple shoon, 
You cannot choose but know my love, 

For he a shepherd's crook doth bear, 
And he is soft as any dove, 

And brown and curly is his hair. 

The turtle now has ceased to call 

Upon her crimson-footed groom, 
The grey wolf prowls about the stall, 
The lily's singing seneschal 


Sleeps in the lily-bell, and all 

The violet hills are lost in gloom. 

O risen moon! O holy moon! 
Stand on the top of Helice, 
And if my own true love you see, 

Ah ! if you see the purple shoon, 

The hazel crook, the lad's brown hair, 
The goat-skin wrapped about his arm, 

Tell him that I am waiting where 
The rushlight glimmers in the Farm. 

The falling dew is cold and chill, 

And no bird sings in Arcady, 
The little fauns have left the hill, 
Even the tired daffodil 
Has closed its gilded doors, and still 

My lover comes not back to me. 
False moon! False moon! O waning moon! 

Where is my own true lover gone, 

Where are the lips vermilion, 
The shepherd's crook, the purple shoon ? 
Why spread that silver pavilion, 

Why wear that veil of drifting mist ? 
Ah! thou hast young Endymion, 

Thou hast the lips that should be kissed! 



MY limbs are wasted with a flame, 
My feet are sore with travelling, 
For calling on my Lady's name 
My lips have now forgot to sing. 

O Linnet in the wild-rose brake, 
Strain for my love thy melody, 

O Lark, sing louder for love's sake, 
My gentle Lady passeth by. 

[O almond-blossoms, bend adown 
Until ye reach her drooping head; 

O twining branches, weave a crown 
Of apple-blossoms white and red.] 

She is too fair for any man 

To see or hold his heart's delight, 

Fairer than Queen or courtezan 
Or moon-lit water in the night. 


Her hair is bound with myrtle leaves, 
(Green leaves upon her golden hair!) 

Green grasses through the yellow sheaves 
Of autumn corn are not more fair. 

Her little lips, more made to kiss 
Than to cry bitterly for pain, 

Are tremulous as brook-water is, 
Or roses after evening rain. 

Her neck is like white melilote 
Flushing for pleasure of the sun, 

The throbbing of the linnet's throat 
Is not so sweet to look upon. 

As a pomegranate, cut in twain, 

White-seeded, is her crimson mouth, 

Her cheeks are as the fading stain 

Where the peach reddens to the south. 

O twining hands! O delicate 

White body made for love and pain! 

O House of love! O desolate 
Pale flower beaten by the rain! 


[God can bring Winter unto May, 

And change the sky to flame and blue, 

Or summer corn to gold from grey: 
One thing alone He cannot do. 

He cannot change my love to hate, 
Or make thy face less fair to see, 

Though now He knocketh at the gate 
With life and death — for you and me.] 



A RING of gold and a milk-white dove 
Are goodly gifts for thee, 
And a hempen rope for your own love 
To hang upon a tree. 

For you a House of Ivory 

(Roses are white in the rose-bower)! 
A narrow bed for me to lie 

(White, O white, is the hemlock flower)! 

Myrtle and jessamine for you 
(O the red rose is fair to see)! 

For me the cypress and the rue 
(Fairest of all is rose-mary) ! 

For you three lovers of your hand 

(Green grass where a man lies dead)! 

For me three paces on the sand 
(Plant lilies at my head) ! 




HE was a Grecian lad, who coming home 
With pulpy figs and wine from Sicily 
Stood at his galley's prow, and let the foam 

Blow through his crisp brown curls unconsciously, 
And holding wave and wind in boy's despite 
Peered from his dripping seat across the wet and 
stormy night 

Till with the dawn he saw a burnished spear 
Like a thin thread of gold against the sky, 

And hoisted sail, and strained the creaking gear, 
And bade the pilot head her lustily 

Against the nor' west gale, and all day long 

Held on his way, and marked the rowers' time 
with measured song, 


And when the faint Corinthian hills were red 

Dropped anchor in a little sandy bay, 
And with fresh boughs of olive crowned his head, 

And brushed from cheek and throat the hoary spray, 
And washed his limbs with oil, and from the hold 
Brought out his linen tunic and his sandals brazen- 

And a rich robe stained with the fishes' juice 

Which of some swarthy trader he had bought 
Upon the sunny quay at Syracuse, 

And was with Tyrian broideries inwrought, 
And by the questioning merchants made his way 
Up through the soft and silver woods, and when the 
labouring day 

Had spun its tangled web of crimson cloud, 
Clomb the high hill, and with swift silent feet 

Crept to the fane unnoticed by the crowd 
Of busy priests, and from some dark retreat 

Watched the young swains his frolic playmates bring 

The firstling of their little flock, and the shv shepherd 

t io 4; 

The crackling salt upon the flame, or hang 
His studded crook against the temple wall 

To Her who keeps away the ravenous fang 

Of the base wolf from homestead and from stall; 

And then the clear-voiced maidens 'gan to sing, 

And to the altar each man brought some goodly 

A beechen cup brimming with milky foam, 
A fair cloth wrought with cunning imagery 

Of hounds in chase, a waxen honey-comb 

Dripping with oozy gold which scarce the bee 

Had ceased from building, a black skin of oil 

Meet for the wrestlers, a great boar the fierce and 
white-tusked spoil 

Stolen from Artemis that jealous maid 
To please Athena, and the dappled hide 

Of a tall stag who in some mountain glade 
Had met the shaft; and then the herald cried, 

And from the pillared precinct one by one 

Went the glad Greeks well pleased that they their 
simple vows had done. 


And the old priest put out the waning fires 
Save that one lamp whose restless ruby glowed 

For ever in the cell, and the shrill lyres 

Came fainter on the wind, as down the road 

In joyous dance these country folk did pass, 

And with stout hands the warder closed the gates 
of polished brass. 

Long time he lay and hardly dared to breathe, 
And heard the cadenced drip of spilt-out wine, 

And the rose-petals falling from the wreath 

As the night breezes wandered through the shrine, 

And seemed to be in some entranced swoon 

Till through the open roof above the full and 
brimming moon 

Flooded with sheeny waves the marble floor, 
When from his nook upleapt the venturous lad, 

And flinging wide the cedar-carven door 
Beheld an awful image saffron-clad 

And armed for battle! the gaunt Griffin glared 

From the huge helm, and the long lance of wreck 
and ruin flared 


Like a red rod of flame, stony and steeled 
The Gorgon's head its leaden eyeballs rolled, 

And writhed its snaky horrors through the shield, 
And gaped aghast with bloodless lips and cold 

In passion impotent, while with blind gaze 

The blinking owl between the feet hooted in shrill 

The lonely fisher as he trimmed his lamp 

Far out at sea off Sunium, or cast 
The net for tunnies, heard a brazen tramp 

Of horses smite the waves, and a wild blast 
Divide the folded curtains of the night, 
And knelt upon the little poop, and prayed in 
holy fright. 

And guilty lovers in their venery 

Forgat a little while their stolen sweets, 

Deeming they heard dread Dian's bitter cry; 
And the grim watchmen on their lofty seats 

Ran to their shields in haste precipitate, 

Or strained black-bearded throats across the dusky 


For round the temple rolled the clang of arms, 
And the twelve Gods leapt up in marble fear, 

And the air quaked with dissonant alarums 
Till huge Poseidon shook his mighty spear, 

And on the frieze the prancing horses neighed, 

And the low tread of hurrying feet rang from the 

Ready for death with parted lips he stood, 
And well content at such a price to see 

That calm wide brow, that terrible maidenhood, 
The marvel of that pitiless chastity, 

Ah! well content indeed, for never wight 

Since Troy's young shepherd prince had seen so 
wonderful a sight. 

Ready for death he stood, but lo! the air 
Grew silent, and the horses ceased to neigh, 

And off his brow he tossed the clustering hair, 
And from his limbs he threw the cloak away, 

For whom would not such love make desperate, 

And nigher came, and touched her throat, and with 
hands violate 


Undid the cuirass, and the crocus gown, 
And bared the breasts of polished ivory, 

Till from the waist the peplos falling down 
Left visible the secret mystery 

Which to no lover will Athena show, 

The grand cool flanks, the crescent thighs, the 
bossy hills of snow. 

[Those who have never known a lover's sin 
Let them not read my ditty, it will be 

To their dull ears so musicless and thin 
That they will have no joy of it, but ye 

To whose wan cheeks now creeps the lingering smile, 

Ye who have learned who Eros is, — O listen yet 

A little space he let his greedy eyes 

Rest on the burnished image, till mere sight 

Half swooned for surfeit of such luxuries, 
And then his lips in hungering delight 

Fed on her lips, and round the towered neck 

He flung his arms, nor cared at all his passion's 
will to check. 


Never I ween did lover hold such tryst, 

For all night long he murmured honeyed word, 

And saw her sweet unravished limbs, and kissed 
Her pale and argent body undisturbed, 

And paddled with the polished throat, and pressed 

His hot and beating heart upon her chill and icy 

It was as if Numidian javelins 

Pierced through and through his wild and 
whirling brain, 
And his nerves thrilled like throbbing violins 

In exquisite pulsation, and the pain 
Was such sweet anguish that he never drew 
His lips from hers till overhead the lark of warning 

[They who have never seen the daylight peer 
Into a darkened room, and drawn the curtain, 

And with dull eyes and wearied from some dear 
And worshipped body risen, they for certain 

Will never know of what I try to sing, 

How long the last kiss was, how fond and late his 


The moon was girdled with a crystal rim, 
The sign which shipmen say is ominous 

Of wrath in heaven, the wan stars were dim, 
And the low lightening east was tremulous 

With the faint fluttering wings of flying dawn, 

Ere from the silent sombre shrine this lover had 

Down the steep rock with hurried feet and fast 
Clomb the brave lad, and reached the cave of Pan , 

And heard the goat-foot snoring as he passed, 
And leapt upon a grassy knoll and ran 

Like a young fawn unto an olive wood 

Which in a shady valley by the well-built city 

And sought a little stream, which well he knew, 
For oftentimes with boyish careless shout 

The green and crested grebe he would pursue, 
Or snare in woven net the silver trout, 

And down amid the startled reeds he lay 

Panting in breathless sweet affright, and waited 
for the day. 


On the green bank he lay, and let one hand 
Dip in the cool dark eddies listlessly, 

And soon the breath of morning came and fanned 
His hot flushed cheeks, or lifted wantonly 

The tangled curls from off his forehead, while 

He on the running water gazed with strange and 
secret smile. 

And soon the shepherd in rough woolen cloak 
With his long crook undid the wattled cotes, 

And from the stack a thin blue wreath of smoke 
Curled through the air across the ripening oats, 

And on the hill the yellow house-dog bayed 

As through the long and rustling fern the heavy 
cattle strayed. 

And when the light-foot mower went afield 
Across the meadows laced with threaded dew, 

And the sheep bleated on the misty weald, 
And from its nest the waking corn-crake flew, 

Some woodmen saw him lying by the stream 

And marvelled much that any lad so beautiful 
could seem, 


Nor deemed him born of mortals, and one said, 
"It is young Hylas, that false runaway 

Who with a Naiad now would make his bed 
Forgetting Herakles," but others, "Nay, 

It is Narcissus, his own paramour, 

Those are the fond and crimson lips no woman can 
allure.' ' 

And when they nearer came a third one cried, 

"It is young Dionysos who has hid 
His spear and fawnskin by the river side 

Weary of hunting with the Bassarid, 
And wise indeed were we away to fly 
They live not long who on the gods immortal 
come to spy." 

So turned they back, and feared to look behind, 
And told the timid swain how they had seen 

Amid the reeds some woodland God reclined, 
And no man dared to cross the open green, 

And on that day no olive-tree was slain, 

Nor rushes cut, but all deserted was the fair 


Save when the neat-herd's lad, his empty pail 
Well slung upon his back, with leap and bound 

Raced on the other side, and stopped to hail 
Hoping that he some comrade new had found, 

And gat no answer, and then half afraid 

Passed on his simple way, or down the still and 
silent glade 

A little girl ran laughing from the farm 
Not thinking of love's secret mysteries, 

And when she saw the white and gleaming arm 
And all his manlihood, with longing eyes 

Whose passion mocked her sweet virginity 

Watched him a-while, and then stole back sadly 
and wearily. 

Far off he heard the city's hum and noise, 
And now and then the shriller laughter where 

The passionate purity of brown-limbed boys 
Wrestled or raced in the clear healthful air, 

And now and then a little tinkling bell 

As the shorn wether led the sheep down to the 
mossy well. 


Through the grey willows danced the fretful gnat, 
The grasshopper chirped idly from the tree, 

In sleek and oily coat the water-rat 
Breasting the little ripples manfully 

Made for the wild-duck's nest, from bough to bough 

Hopped the shy finch, and the huge tortoise crept 
across the slough. 

On the faint wind floated the silky seeds 

As the bright scythe swept through the waving grass, 

The ousel-cock splashed circles in the reeds 

And flecked with silver whorls the forest's glass, 

Which scarce had caught again its imagery 

Ere from its bed the dusky tench leapt at the 

But little care had he for any thing 

Though up and down the beech the squirrel played, 
And from the copse the linnet 'gan to sing 

To her brown mate her sweetest serenade, 
Ah! little care indeed, for he had seen 

The breasts of Pallas and the naked wonder of 
the Queen. 


But when the herdsman called his straggling goats 

With whistling pipe across the rocky road, 
And the shard-beetle with its trumpet-notes 

Boomed through the darkening woods, and seemed 
to bode 
Of coming storm, and the belated crane 
Passed homeward like a shadow, and the dull big 
drops of rain 

Fell on the pattering fig-leaves, up he rose, 
And from the gloomy forest went his way 

Passed sombre homestead and wet orchard-close, 
And came at last unto a little quay 

And called his mates a-board, and took his seat 

On the high poop, and pushed from land, and 
loosed the dripping sheet, 

And steered across the bay, and when nine suns 
Passed down the long and laddered way of gold, 

And nine pale moons had breathed their orisons 
To the chaste stars their confessors, or told 

Their dearest secret to the downy moth 

That will not fly at noonday, through the foam and 
surging froth 


Came a great owl with yellow sulphurous eyes 
And lit upon the ship, whose timbers creaked 

As though the lading of three argosies 
Were in the hold, and flapped its wings, and shrieked, 

And darkness straightway stole across the deep, 

Sheathed was Orion's sword, dread Mars himself 
fled down the steep, 

And the moon hid behind a tawny mask 

Of drifting cloud, and from the ocean's marge 

Rose the red plume, the huge and horned casque, 
The seven-cubit spear, the brazen targe! 

And clad in bright and burnished panoply 

Athena strode across the stretch of sick and 
shivering sea! 

To the dull sailors 5 sight her loosened locks 
Seemed like the jagged storm-rack, and her feet 

Only the spume that floats on hidden rocks, 
And, marking how the rising waters beat 

Against the rolling ship, the pilot cried 

To the young helmsman at the stern to luff to 
windward side. 


But he, the over-bold adulterer, 
A dear profaner of great mysteries, 

An ardent amorous idolater, 

When he beheld those grand relentless eyes 

Laughed loud for joy, and crying out " I come' ' 

Leapt from the lofty poop into the chill and 
churning foam. 

Then fell from the high heaven one bright star, 
One dancer left the circling galaxy, 

And back to Athens on her clattering car 
In all the pride of venged divinity 

Pale Pallas swept with shrill and steely clank, 

And a few gurgling bubbles rose where her boy 
lover sank. 

And the mast shuddered as the gaunt owl flew 
With mocking hoots after the wrathful Queen, 

And the old pilot bade the trembling crew 
Hoist the big sail, and told how he had seen 

Close to the stern a dim and giant form, 

And like a dripping swallow the stout ship dashed 
through the storm. 


And no man dared to speak of Charmides 

Deeming that he some evil thing had wrought, 

And when they reached the strait Symplegades 

They beached their galley on the shore, and sought 

The toll-gate of the city hastily, 

And in the market showed their brown and 
pictured pottery. 



BUT some good Triton-god had ruth, and bare 
The boy's drowned body back to Grecian land, 
And mermaids combed his dank and dripping hair 
And smoothed his brow, and loosed his clenching 
Some brought sweet spices from far Araby, 
And others bade the halycon sing her softest 

And when he neared his old Athenian home, 

A mighty billow rose up suddenly 
Upon whose oily back the clotted foam 

Lay diapered in some strange phantasy, 
And clasping him unto its glassy breast, 
Swept landward, like a white-maned steed upon 
a venturous quest. 


Now where Colonos leans unto the sea 

There lies a long and level stretch of lawn, 

The rabbit knows it, and the mountain bee 
For it deserts Hymettus, and the Faun 

Is not afraid, for never through the day 

Comes a cry ruder than the shout of shepherd 
lads at play. 

But often from the thorny labyrinth 

And tangled branches of the circling wood 

The stealthy hunter sees young Hyacinth 

Hurling the polished disk, and draws his hood 

Over his guilty gaze, and creeps away, 

Nor dares to wind his horn, or — else at the first 
break of day 

The Dryads come and throw the leathern ball 
Along the reedy shore, and circumvent 

Some goat-eared Pan to be their seneschal 
For fear of bold Poseidon's ravishment, 

And loose their girdles, with shy timorous eyes, 

Lest from the surf his azure arms and purple 
beard should rise. 


On this side and on that a rocky cave, 

Hung with the yellow-bell'd laburnum, stands, 

Smooth is the beach, save where some ebbing wave 
Leaves its faint outline etched upon the sands, 

As though it feared to be too soon forgot 

By the green rush, its playfellow, — and yet, it is a 

So small, that the inconstant butterfly 

Could steal the hoarded honey from each flower 

Ere it was noon, and still not satisfy 
Its over-greedy love, — within an hour 

A sailor boy, were he but rude enow 

To land and pluck a garland for his galley's 
painted prow, 

Would almost leave the little meadow bare, 
For it knows nothing of great pageantry, 

Only a few narcissi here and there 
Stand separate in sweet austerity, 

Dotting the unmown grass with silver stars, 

And here and there a daffodil waves tiny scimitars. 


Hither the billow brought him, and was glad 
Of such dear servitude, and where the land 

Was virgin of all waters laid the lad 
Upon the golden margent of the strand, 

And like a lingering lover oft returned 

To kiss those pallid limbs which once with intense 
fire burned, 

Ere the wet seas had quenched that holocaust, 
That self-fed flame, that passionate lustihead, 

Ere grisly death with chill and nipping frost 
Had withered up those lilies white and red 

Which, while the boy would through the forest range, 

Answered each other in a sweet antiphonal 

And when at dawn the wood-nymphs, hand-in-hand, 
Threaded the bosky dell, their satyr spied 

The boy's pale body stretched upon the sand, 
And feared Poseidon's treachery, and cried, 

And like bright sunbeams flitting through a glade, 

Each startled Dryad sought some safe and leafy 
, ambuscade. 

l 1 ^] 

Save one white girl, who deemed it would not be 
So dread a thing to feel a sea-god's arms 

Crushing her breasts in amorous tyranny, 
And longed to listen to those subtle charms 

Insidious lovers weave when they would win 

Some fenced fortress, and stole back again, nor 
thought it sin 

To yield her treasure unto one so fair, 

And lay beside him, thirsty with love's drouth, 

Called him soft names, played with his tangled hair, 
And with hot lips made havoc of his mouth 

Afraid he might not wake, and then afraid 

Lest he might wake too soon, fled back, and then, 
fond renegade, 

Returned to fresh assault, and all day long 
Sat at his side, and laughed at her new toy, 

And held his hand, and sang her sweetest song, 
Then frowned to see how froward was the boy 

Who would not with her maidenhood entwine, 

Nor knew that three days since his eyes had looked 
on Proserpine, 


Nor knew what sacrilege his lips had done, 
But said, "He will awake, I know him well, 

He will awake at evening when the sun 
Hangs his red shield on Corinth's citadel, 

This sleep is but a cruel treachery 

To make me love him more, and in some cavern 
of the sea 

Deeper than ever falls the fisher's line 
Already a huge Triton blows his horn, 

And weaves a garland from the crystalline 
And drifting ocean-tendrils to adorn 

The emerald pillars of our bridal bed, 

For sphered in foaming silver, and with coral- 
crowned head, 

We two will sit upon a throne of pearl, 
And a blue wave will be our canopy, 

And at our feet the water-snakes will curl 
In all their amethystine panoply 

Of diamonded mail, and we will mark 

The mullets swimming by the mast of some storm- 
foundered bark, 


Vermilion-finned with eyes of bossy gold 

Like flakes of crimson light, and the great deep 

His glassy-portaled chamber will unfold, 
And we will see the painted dolphins sleep 

Cradled by murmuring halcyons on the rocks 

Where Proteus in quaint suit of green pastures his 
monstrous flocks. 

And tremulous opal-hued anemones 

Will wave their purple fringes where we tread 
Upon the mirrored floor, and argosies 

Of fishes flecked with tawny scales will thread 
The drifting cordage of the shattered wreck, 
And honey-coloured amber beads our twining 
limbs will deck." 

But when that baffled Lord of War the Sun 
With gaudy pennon flying passed away 

Into his brazen House, and one by one 
The little yellow stars began to stray 

Across the field of heaven, ah ! then indeed 

She feared his lips upon her lips would never 
care to feed, 


And cried, "Awake, already the pale moon 
Washes the trees with silver, and the wave 

Creeps grey and chilly up this sandy dune, 
The croaking frogs are out, and from the cave 

The night-jar shrieks, the fluttering bats repass, 

And the brown stoat with hollow flanks creeps 
through the dusky grass. 

Nay, though thou art a God, be not so coy, 
For in yon stream there is a little reed 

That often whispers how a lovely boy 
Lay with her once upon a grassy mead, 

Who when his cruel pleasure he had done 

Spread wings of rustling gold and soared aloft 
into the sun. 

Be not so coy, the laurel trembles still 
With great Apollo's kisses, and the fir 

Whose clustering sisters fringe the sea-ward hill 
Hath many a tale of that bold ravisher 

Whom men call Boreas, and I have seen 

The mocking eyes of Hermes through the poplar's 
silvery sheen, 


Even the jealous Naiads call me fair, 

And every morn a young and ruddy swain 

Woos me with apples and with locks of hair, 
And seeks to soothe my virginal disdain 

By all the gifts the gentle wood-nymphs love; 

But yesterday he brought to me an iris-plumaged 

With little crimson feet, which with its store 

Of seven spotted eggs the cruel lad 
Had stolen from the lofty sycamore 

At day-break, when her amorous comrade had 
Flown off in search of berried juniper 
Which most they love; the fretful wasp, that 
earliest vintager 

Of the blue grapes, hath not persistency 
So constant as this simple shepherd-boy 

For my poor lips, his joyous purity 

And laughing sunny eyes might well decoy 

A Dryad from her oath to Artemis; 

For very beautiful is he, his mouth was made to kiss, 


His argent forehead, like a rising moon 
Over the dusky hills of meeting brows, 

Is crescent shaped, the hot and Tyrian noon 
Leads from the myrtle-grove no goodlier spouse 

For Cytheraea, the first silky down 

Fringes his blushing cheeks, and his young limbs 
are strong and brown: 

And he is rich, and fat and fleecy herds 
Of bleating sheep upon his meadows lie, 

And many an earthen bowl of yellow curds 
Is in his homestead for the thievish fly 

To swim and drown in, the pink clover mead 

Keeps its sweet store for him, and he can pipe on 
oaten reed. 

And yet I love him not, it was for thee 

I kept my love, I knew that thou would'st come 

To rid me of this pallid chastity; 

Thou fairest flower of the flowerless foam 

Of all the wide iEgean, brightest star 

Of ocean's azure heavens where the mirrored 
planets are! 


I knew that thou would'st come, for when at first 
The dry wood burgeoned, and the sap of Spring 

Swelled in my green and tender bark or burst 
To myriad multitudinous blossoming 

Which mocked the midnight with its mimic moons 

That did not dread the dawn, and first the thrushes' 
rapturous tunes 

Startled the squirrel from its granary, 

And cuckoo flowers fringed the narrow lane, 

Through my young leaves a sensuous ecstasy 
Crept like new wine, and every mossy vein 

Throbbed with the fitful pulse of amorous blood, 

And the wild winds of passion shook my slim 
stem's maidenhood. 

The trooping fawns at evening came and laid 
Their cool black noses on my lowest boughs, 

And on my topmost branch the blackbird made 
A little nest of grasses for his spouse, 

And now and then a twittering wren would light 

On a thin twig which hardly bare the weight of 
such delight. 


I was the Attic shepherd's trysting place, 

Beneath my shadow Amaryllis lay, 
And round my trunk would laughing Daphnis chase 

The timorous girl, till tired out with play 
She felt his hot breath stir her tangled hair, 
And turned, and looked, and fled no more from 
such delightful snare. 

Then come away unto my ambuscade 

Where clustering woodbine weaves a canopy 

For amorous pleasaunce, and the rustling shade 
Of Paphian myrtles seems to sanctify 

The dearest rites of love, there in the cool 

And green recesses of its farthest depth there is a 

The ouzel's haunt, the wild bee's pasturage, 
For round its* rim great creamy lilies float 

Through their flat leaves in verdant anchorage, 
Each cup a white-sailed golden-laden boat 

Steered by a dragon-fly, — be not afraid 

To leave this wan and wave-kissed shore, surely 
the place was made 

For lovers such as we, the Cyprian Queen, 
One arm around her boyish paramour, 

Strays often there at eve, and I have seen 
The moon strip off her misty vestiture 

For young Endymion's eyes, be not afraid, 

The panther feet of Dian never tread that secret 

Nay if thou will'st, back to the beating brine, 
Back to the boisterous billow let us go, 

And walk all day beneath the hyaline 
Huge vault of Neptune's watery portico, 

And watch the purple monsters of the deep 

Sport in ungainly play, and from his lair keen 
Xiphias leap. 

For if my mistress find me lying here 
She will not ruth or gentle pity show, 

But lay her boar-spear down, and with austere 
Relentless fingers string the cornel bow, 

And draw the feathered notch against her breast, 

And loose the arched cord, ay, even now upon the 


I hear her hurrying feet, — awake, awake, 
Thou laggard in love's battle! once at least 

Let me drink deep of passion's wine, and slake 
My parched being with the nectarous feast 

Which even Gods affect! O come, Love, come, 

Still we have time to reach the cavern of thine 
azure home." 

Scarce had she spoken when the shuddering trees 
Shook, and the leaves divided, and the air 

Grew conscious of a God, and the grey seas 

Crawled backward, and a long and dismal blare 

Blew from some tasselled horn, a sleuth-hound bayed, 

And like a flame a barbed reed flew whizzing 
down the glade. 

And where the little flowers of her breast 
Just brake into their milky blossoming, 

This murderous paramour, this unbidden guest, 
Pierced and struck deep in horrid chambering, 

And ploughed a bloody furrow with its dart, 

And dug a long red road, and cleft with winged 
death her heart. 


Sobbing her life out with a bitter cry 
On the boy's body fell the Dryad maid, 

Sobbing for incomplete virginity, 

And raptures unenjoyed, and pleasures dead, 

And all the pain of things unsatisfied, 

And the bright drops of crimson youth crept 
down her throbbing side. 

Ah! pitiful it was to hear her moan, 

And very pitiful to see her die 
Ere she had yielded up her sweets, or known 

The joy of passion, that dread mystery 
Which not to know is not to live at all, 
And yet to know is to be held in death's most deadly 

But as it hapt the Queen of Cythere, 
Who with Adonis all night long had lain 

Within some shepherd's hut in Arcady, 
On team of silver doves and gilded wain 

Was journeying Paphos-ward, high up afar 

From mortal ken between the mountains and 
the morning star, 


And when low down she spied the hapless pair, 
And heard the Oread's faint despairing cry, 

Whose cadence seemed to play upon the air 
As though it were a viol, hastily 

She bade her pigeons fold each straining plume, 

And dropt to earth, and reached the strand, and 
saw their dolorous doom. 

For as a gardener turning back his head 
To catch the last notes of the linnet, mows 

With careless scythe too near some flower bed, 
And cuts the thorny pillar of the rose, 

And with the flower's loosened loveliness 

Strews the brown mould, or as some shepherd 
lad in wantonness 

Driving his little flock along the mead 

Treads down two daffodils 'which side by side 

Have lured the lady-bird with yellow brede 
And made the gaudy moth forget its pride, 

Treads down their brimming golden chalices 

Under light feet which were not made for such 
rude ravages, 


Or as a schoolboy tired of his book 

Flings himself down upon the reedy grass 

And plucks two water-lilies from the brook, 
And for a time forgets the hour glass, 

Then wearies of their sweets, and goes his way, 

And lets the hot sun kill them, even so these 
lovers lay. 

And Venus cried, "It is dread Artemis 

Whose bitter hand hath wrought this cruelty, 

Or else that mightier maid whose care it is 
To guard her strong and stainless majesty 

Upon the hill Athenian, — alas! 

That they who loved so well unloved into Death's 
house should pass." 

So with soft hands she laid the boy and girl 
In the great golden waggon tenderly, 

Her white throat whiter than a moony pearl 
Just threaded with a blue vein's tapestry 

Had not yet ceased to throb, and still her breast 

Swayed like a wind-stirred lily in ambiguous 


And then each pigeon spread its milky van 
The bright car soared into the dawning sky, 

And like a cloud the aerial caravan 
Passed over the iEgean silently 

Till the faint air was troubled with the song 

From the wan mouths that call on bleeding 
Thammuz all night long. 

But when the doves had reached their wonted goal 
Where the wide stair of orbed marble dips 

Its snows into the sea, her fluttering soul 
Just shook the trembling petals of her lips 

And passed into the void, and Venus knew 

That one fair maid the less would walk amid 
her retinue, 

And bade her servants carve a cedar chest 

With all the wonder of this history, 
Within whose scented womb their limbs should rest 

Where olive-trees make tender the blue sky 
On the low hills of Paphos, and the faun 
Pipes in the noonday, and the nightingale sings 
on till dawn. 


Nor failed they to obey her hest, and ere 
The morning bee had stung the daffodil 

With tiny fretful spear, or from its lair 
The waking stag had leapt across the rill 

And roused the ouzel, or the lizard crept 

Athwart the sunny rock, beneath the grass their 
bodies slept. 

And when day brake, within that silver shrine 
Fed by the flames of cressets tremulous, 

Queen Venus knelt and prayed to Proserpine 
That she whose beauty made Death amorous 

Should beg a guerdon from her pallid Lord, 

And let Desire pass across dread Charon's icy 



TN melancholy moonless Acheron, 

■*■ Far from the goodly earth and joyous day, 

Where no spring ever buds, nor ripening sun 

Weighs down the apple trees, nor flowery May 
Chequers with chestnut blooms the grassy floor, 
Where thrushes never sing, and piping linnets 
mate no more, 

There by a dim and dark Lethaean well 
Young Charmides was lying, wearily 

He plucked the blossoms from the asphodel, 
And with its little rifled treasury 

Strewed the dull waters of the dusky stream, 

And watched the white stars founder, and the 
land was like a dream, 


When as he gazed into the watery glass 

And through his brown hair's curly tangles scanned 
His own wan face, a shadow seemed to pass 

Across the mirror, and a little hand 
Stole into his, and warm lips timidly 
Brushed his pale cheeks, and breathed their 
secret forth into a sigh. 

Then turned he round his weary eyes and saw, 
And ever nigher still their faces came, 

And nigher ever did their young mouths draw 
Until they seemed one perfect rose of flame, 

And longing arms around her neck he cast, 

And felt her throbbing bosom, and his breath 
came hot and fast, 

And all his hoarded sweets were hers to kiss, 
And all her maidenhood was his to slay, 

And limb to limb in long and rapturous bliss 
Their passion waxed and waned, — O why essay 

To pipe again of love, too venturous reed ! 

Enough, enough that Eros laughed upon that 
flowerless mead. 


Too venturous poesy, O why essay 

To pipe again of passion! fold thy wings 

O'er daring Icarus and bid thy lay 

Sleep hidden in the lyre's silent strings, 

Till thou hast found the old Castalian rill, 

Or from the Lesbian waters plucked drowned 
Sappho's golden quill! 

Enough, enough that he whose life had been 
A fiery pulse of sin, a splendid shame, 

Could in the loveless land of Hades glean 

One scorching harvest from those fields of flame 

Where passion walks with naked unshod feet 

And is not wounded, — ah! enough that once 
their lips could meet 

In that wild throb when all existences 
Seemed narrowed to one single ecstasy 

Which dies through its own sweetness and the stress 
Of too much pleasure, ere Persephone 

Had bade them serve her by the ebon throne 

Of the pale God who in the fields of Enna loosed 
her zone, 





THE sea is flecked with bars of grey, 
The dull dead wind is out of tune, 
And like a withered leaf the moon 
Is blown across the stormy bay. 

Etched clear upon the pallid sand 
Lies the black boat: a sailor boy 
Clambers aboard in careless joy 
With laughing face and gleaming hand. 

And overhead the curlews cry, 
Where through the dusky upland grass 
The young brown-throated reapers pass 
Like silhouettes against the sky. 




TO outer senses there is peace, 
A dreamy peace on either hand, 
Deep silence in the shadowy land, 
Deep silence where the shadows cease. 

Save for a cry that echoes shrill 
From some lone bird disconsolate; 
A corncrake calling to its mate; 
The answer from the misty hill. 

And suddenly the moon withdraws 
Her sickle from the lightening skies, 
And to her sombre cavern flies, 
Wrapped in a veil of yellow gauze. 



RID of the world's injustice, and his pain, 
He rests at last beneath God's veil of blue: 

Taken from life when life and love were new 
The youngest of the martyrs here is lain, 
Fair as Sebastian, and as early slain. 

No cypress shades his grave, no funeral yew, 

But gentle violets weeping with the dew 
Weave on his bones an ever-blossoming chain. 
O proudest heart that broke for misery! 

O sweetest lips since those of Mitylene! 

O poet-painter of our English Land! 
Thy name was writ in water — it shall stand: 

And tears like mine will keep thy memory green, 

As Isabella did her Basil-tree. 





O SINGER of Persephone! 
In the dim meadows desolate 
Dost thou remember Sicily ? 

Still through the ivy flits the bee 
Where Amaryllis lies in state; 
O singer of Persephone ! 

Simaetha calls on Hecate 

And hears the wild dogs at the gate; 
Dost thou remember Sicily ? 

Still by the light and laughing sea 

Poor Polypheme bemoans his fate: 
O singer of Persephone ! 

And still in boyish rivalry 

Young Daphnis challenges his mate: 
Dost thou remember Sicily ? 

Slim Lacon keeps a goat for thee, 

For thee the jocund shepherds wait, 
O singer of Persephone! 
Dost thou remember Sicily ? 




HER ivory hands on the ivory keys 
Strayed in a fitful fantasy, 
Like the silver gleam when the poplar trees 
Rustled their pale leaves listlessly, 
Or the drifting foam of a restless sea 
When the waves show their teeth in the flying breeze. 

Her gold hair fell on the wall of gold 
Like the delicate gossamer tangles spun 

On the burnished disk of the marigold, 
Or the sun-flower turning to meet the sun 
When the gloom of the dark blue night is done, 

And the spear of the lily is aureoled. 

And her sweet red lips on these lips of mine 
Burned like the ruby fire set 

In the swinging lamp of a crimson shrine, 
Or the bleeding wounds of the pomegranate, 
Or the heart of the lotus drenched and wet 

With the spilt-out blood of the rose-red wine. 





AM weary of lying within the chase 
When the knights are meeting in market-place. 

Nay, go not thou to the red-roofed town 

Lest the hooves of the war-horse tread thee down. 

But I would not go where the Squires ride, 
I would only walk by my Lady's side. 

Alack! and alack! thou art over bold, 
A Forester's son may not eat off gold. 

Will she love me the less that my Father is seen, 
Each Martinmas day in a doublet green ? 

Perchance she is sewing at tapestrie, 
Spindle and loom are not meet for thee. 

Ah, if she is working the arras bright 

I might ravel the threads by the fire-light. 


Perchance she is hunting of the deer, 
How could you follow o'er hill and meer ? 

Ah, if she is riding with the court, 

I might run beside her and wind the morte. 

Perchance she is kneeling in S. Denys, 

(On her soul may our Lady have gramercy!) 

Ah, if she is praying in lone chapelle, 

I might swing the censer and ring the bell. 

Come in my son, for you look sae pale, 
The father shall fill thee a stoup of ale. 

But who are these knights in bright array ? 
Is it a pageant the rich folks play ? 

'Tis the King of England from over sea, 
Who has come unto visit our fair countrie. 

But why does the curfew toil sae low ? 
And why do the mourners walk a-row ? 

O 'tis Hugh of Amiens my sister's son 
Who is lying stark, for his day is done. 

Nay, nay, for I see white lilies clear, 
It is no strong man who lies on the bier. 


'tis old Dame Jeannette that kept the hall, 

1 knew she would die at the autumn fall. 

Dame Jeannette had not that gold-brown hair, 
Old Jeannette was not a maiden fair. 

O 'tis none of our kith and none of our kin, 
(Her soul may our Lady assoil from sin!) 

But I hear the boy's voice chaunting sweet, 
"Elle est morte, la Marguerite." 

Come in my son and lie on the bed, 
And let the dead folk bury their dead. 

O mother, you know I loved her true: 
O mother, hath one grave room for two ? 




SEVEN stars in the still water, 
And seven in the sky; 
Seven sins on the King's daughter, 
Deep in her soul to lie. 

Red roses are at her feet, 

(Roses are red in her red-gold hair) 
And O where her bosom and girdle meet 

Red roses are hidden there. 

Fair is the knight who lieth slain 

Amid the rush and reed, 
See the lean fishes that are fain 

Upon dead men to feed. 

Sweet is the page that lieth there, 

(Cloth of gold is goodly prey,) 
See the black ravens in the air 

Black, O black as the night are they. 


What do they there so stark and dead ? 

(There is blood upon her hand) 
Why are the lilies flecked with red ? 

(There is blood on the river sand.) 

There are two that ride from the south and east, 
And two from the north and west, 

For the black raven a goodly feast, 
For the King's daughter rest. 

There is one man who loves her true, 
(Red, O red, is the stain of gore !) 

He hath duggen a grave by the darksome yew, 
(One grave will do for four.) 

No moon in the still heaven, 

In the black water none, 
The sins on her soul are seven, 

The sin upon his is one. 



OFT have we trod the vales of Castaly 
And heard sweet notes of sylvan music blown 

From antique reeds to common folk unknown: 
And often launched our bark upon that sea 
Which the nine Muses hold in empery, 

And ploughed free furrows through the wave and foam 

Nor spread reluctant sail for more safe home 
Till we had freighted well our argosy. 
Of which despoiled treasures these remain, 

Sordello's passion, and the honied line 
Of young Endymion, lordly Tamburlaine 

Driving his pampered jades, and, more than these, 
The seven-fold vision of the Florentine, 

And grave-browed Milton's solemn harmonies. 



THE Gods are dead: no longer do we bring 
To grey-eyed Pallas crowns of olive-leaves ! 
Demeter's child no more hath tithe of sheaves, 
And in the noon the careless shepherds sing, 
For Pan is dead, and all the wantoning 
By secret glade and devious haunt is o'er: 
Young Hylas seeks the water-springs no more; 
Great Pan is dead, and Mary's Son is King. 

And yet — perchance in this sea-tranced isle, 
Chewing the bitter fruit of memory, 
Some God lies hidden in the asphodel. 

Ah Love ! if such there be then it were well 
For us to fly his anger: nay, but see 
The leaves are stirring: let us watch a-while. 




TWO crowned Kings, and One that stood alone 
With no green weight of laurels round his head, 

But with sad eyes as one uncomforted, 
And wearied with man's never-ceasing moan 
For sins no bleating victim can atone, 

And sweet long lips with tears and kisses fed. 

Girt was he in a garment black and red, 
And at his feet I marked a broken stone 

Which sent up lilies, dove-like, to his knees. 

Now at their sight, my heart being lit with flame 
I cried to Beatrice, "Who are these?" 
And she made answer, knowing well each name, 

"iEschylus first, the second Sophokles, 

And last (wide stream of tears!) Euripides/ ' 



THE sea was sapphire coloured, and the sky 
Burned like a heated opal through the air; 

We hoisted sail; the wind was blowing fair 
For the blue lands that to the eastward lie. 
From the steep prow I marked with quickening eye 

Zakynthos, every olive grove and creek, 

Ithaca's cliff, Lycaon's snowy peak, 
And all the flower-strewn hills of Arcady. 
The flapping of the sail against the mast, 

The ripple of the water on the side, 

The ripple of girls' laughter at the stern, 
The only sounds: — when 'gan the West to burn, 

And a red sun upon the seas to ride, 

I stood upon the soil of Greece at last! 




LIKE burnt-out torches by a sick man's bed 
Gaunt cypress-trees stand round the sun- 
bleached stone; 
Here doth the little night-owl make her throne, 
And the slight lizard show his jewelled head. 
And, where the chaliced poppies flame to red, 
In the still chamber of yon pyramid 
Surely some Old-World Sphinx lurks darkly hid, 
Grim warder of his pleasaunce of the dead. 

Ah! sweet indeed to rest within the womb 
Of Earth, great mother of eternal sleep, 

But sweeter far for thee a restless tomb 
In the blue cavern of an echoing deep, 

Or where the tall ships founder in the gloom 
Against the rocks of some wave-shattered steep. 




THE oleander on the wall 
Grows crimson in the dawning light, 
Though the grey shadows of the night 
Lie yet on Florence like a pall. 

The dew is bright upon the hill, 
And bright the blossoms overhead, 
But ah! the grasshoppers have fled, 
The little Attic song is still. 

Only the leaves are gently stirred 
By the soft breathing of the gale, 
And in the almond-scented vale 
The lonely nightingale is heard. 

The day will make thee silent soon, 
O nightingale, sing on for love! 
While yet upon the shadowy grove 
Splinter the arrows of the moon. 


Before, across the silent lawn 
In sea-green vest the morning steals, 
And to love's frightened eyes reveals 
The long white fingers of the dawn 

Fast climbing up the eastern sky 
To grasp and slay the shuddering night, 
All careless of my heart's delight, 
Or if the nightingale should die. 




To My Friend Henry Irving 

THE silent room, the heavy creeping shade, 
The dead that travel fast, the opening door, 
The murdered brother rising through the floor, 

The ghost's white fingers on thy shoulders laid, 

And then the lonely duel in the glade, 

The broken swords, the stifled scream, the gore, 
Thy grand revengeful eyes when all is o'er, — 

These things are well enough, — but thou wert made 
For more august creation! frenzied Lear 
Should at thy bidding wander on the heath 
With the shrill fool to mock him, Romeo 

For thee should lure his love, and desperate fear 

Pluck Richard's recreant dagger from its sheath — 
Thou trumpet set for Shakespeare's lips to blow! 



To Sarah Bernhardt 

HOW vain and dull this common world must seem 
To such a One as thou, who should'st have talked 
At Florence with Mirandola, or walked 
Through the cool olives of the Academe : 
Thou should'st have gathered reeds from a green 
For Goat-foot Pan's shrill piping, and have played 
With the white girls in that Phaeacian glade 
Where grave Odysseus wakened from his dream. 

Ah ! surely once some urn of Attic clay 

Held thy wan dust, and thou hast come again 
Back to this common world so dull and vain, 

For thou wert weary of the sunless day, 
The heavy fields of scentless asphodel, 
The loveless lips with which men kiss in Hell. 





To Ellen Terry 

[" MARVEL not Bassanio was so bold 
-*- To peril all he had upon the lead, 

Or that proud Aragon bent low his head, 
Or that Morocco's fiery heart grew cold: 
For in that gorgeous dress of beaten gold 

Which is more golden than the golden sun, 

No woman Veronese looked upon 
Was half so fair as thou whom I behold. 
Yet fairer when with wisdom as your shield 

The sober-suited lawyer's gown you donned, 
And would not let the laws of Venice yield 

Antonio's heart to that accursed Jew — 

O Portia! take my heart: it is thy due: 
I think I will not quarrel with the Bond. 




To Ellen Terry 

IN the lone tent, waiting for victory, 
She stands with eyes marred by the mists of pain, 

Like some wan lily overdrenched with rain: 
The clamorous clang of arms, the ensanguined sky, 
War's ruin, and the wreck of chivalry, 

To her proud soul no common fear can bring: 

Bravely she tarrieth for her Lord the King, 
Her soul a-flame with passionate ecstasy. 
O Hair of Gold ! O Crimson Lips ! O Face 

Made for the luring and the love of man! 

With thee I do forget the toil and stress, 
The loveless road that knows no resting place, 

Time's straitened pulse, the soul's dread weariness, 

My freedom, and my life republican! 



AS one who poring on a Grecian urn 
Scans the fair shapes some Attic hand 
hath made, 
God with slim goddess, goodly man with maid, 
And for their beauty's sake is loth to turn 
And face the obvious day, must I not yearn 
For many a secret moon of indolent bliss, 
When in the midmost shrine of Artemis 
I see thee standing, antique-limbed, and stern ? 

And yet — methinks I'd rather see thee play 
That serpent of old Nile, whose witchery 

Made Emperors drunken, — come, great Egypt, shake 
Our stage with all thy mimic pageants! Nay, 
I am grown sick of unreal passions, make 

The world thine Actium, me thine Antony! 




NAY, let us walk from fire unto fire, 
From passionate pain to deadlier delight, — 
I am too young to live without desire, 

Too young art thou to waste this summer night 
Asking those idle questions which of old 
Man sought of seer and oracle, and no reply 
was told. 

For, sweet, to feel is better than to know, 

And wisdom is a childless heritage, 
One pulse of passion — youth's first fiery glow, — 

Are worth the hoarded proverbs of the sage: 
Vex not thy soul with dead philosophy, 
Have we not lips to kiss with, hearts to love, and 
eyes to see! 

Dost thou not hear the murmuring nightingale 
Like water bubbling from a silver jar, 

So soft she sings ^j&e envious moon is pale, 
That high in heaven she is hung so far 

She cannot hear that love-enraptured tune, — 

Mark how she wreathes each horn with mist, 
yon late and labouring moon. 


White lilies, in whose cups the gold bees dream 
The fallen snow of petals where the breeze 

Scatters the chestnut blossom, or the gleam 
Of boyish limbs in water, — are not these 

Enough for thee, dost thou desire more ? 

Alas! the Gods will give nought else from their 
eternal store. 

For our high Gods have sick and wearied grown 
Of all our endless sins, our vain endeavour 

For wasted days of youth to make atone 

By pain or prayer or priest, and never, never, 

Hearken they now to either good or ill, 

But send their rain upon the just and the unjust 
at will. 

They sit at ease, our Gods they sit at ease, 

Strewing with leaves of rose their scented wine, 

They sleep, they sleep, beneath the rocking trees 
Where asphodel and yellow lotus twine, 

Mourning the old glad days before they knew 

What evil things the heart of man could dream, 
and dreaming do. 

And far beneath the brazen floor they see 
Like swarming flies the crowd of little men, 


The bustle of small lives, then wearily 

Back to their lotus-haunts they turn again 
Kissing each other's mouths, and mix more deep 
The poppy-seeded draught which brings soft 
purple-lidded sleep. 

There all day long the golden-vestured sun, 

Their torch-bearer, stands with his torch a-blaze, 

And, when the gaudy web of noon is spun 

By its twelve maidens, through the crimson haze 

Fresh from Endymion's arms comes forth the moon, 

And the immortal Gods in toils of mortal passions 

There walks Queen Juno through some dewy mead 
Her grand white feet flecked with the saffron dust 

Of wind-stirred lilies, while young Ganymede 
Leaps in the hot and amber-foaming must, 

His curls all tossed, as when the eagle bare 

The frightened boy from Ida through the blue 
Ionian air. 

There in the green heart of some garden close 
Queen Venus with the shepherd at her side, 

Her warm soft body like the briar rose 

Which would be white yet blushes at its pride, 


Laughs low for love, till jealous Salmacis 
Peers through the myrtle-leaves and sighs for 
pain of lonely bliss. 

There never does that dreary north-wind blow 
Which leaves our English forests bleak and bare, 

Nor ever falls the swift white-feathered snow, 
Nor ever doth the red-toothed lightning dare 

To wake them in the silver-fretted night 

When we lie weeping for some sweet sad sin, 
some dead delight. 

Alas! they know the far Lethaean spring, 
The violet-hidden waters well they know, 

Where one whose feet with tired wandering 
Are faint and broken may take heart and go, 

And from those dark depths cool and crystalline 

Drink, and draw balm, and sleep for sleepless souls, 
and anodyne. 

But we oppress our natures, God or Fate 

Is our enemy, we starve and feed 
On vain repentance — O we are born too late! 

What balm for us in bruised poppy seed 


Who crowd into one finite pulse of time 
The joy of infinite love and the fierce pain of 
infinite crime. 

O we are wearied of this sense of guilt, 
Wearied of pleasure's paramour despair, 

Wearied of every temple we have built, 
Wearied of every right, unanswered prayer, 

For man is weak; God sleeps: and heaven is high: 

One fiery-coloured moment: one great love; and 
lo! we die. 

Ah! but no ferry-man with labouring pole 

Nears his black shallop to the flowerless strand, 

No little coin of bronze can bring the soul 
Over Death's river to the sunless land, 

Victim and wine and vow are all in vain, 

The tomb is sealed; the soldiers watch; the dead 
rise not again. 

We are resolved into the supreme air, 

We are made one with what we touch and see, 

With our heart's blood each crimson sun is fair, 
With our young lives each spring-impassioned tree 


Flames into green, the wildest beasts that range 
The moor our kinsmen are, all life is one, and 
all is change. 

With beat of systole and of diastole 

One grand great life throbs through earth's 
giant heart, 
And mighty waves of single Being roll 

From nerveless germ to man, for we are part 
Of every rock and bird and beast and hill, 
One with the things that prey on us, and one 
with what we kill. 

From lower cells of waking life we pass 

To full perfection; thus the world grows old: 

We who are godlike now were once a mass 
Of quivering purple flecked with bars of gold, 

Unsentient or of joy or misery, 

And tossed in terrible tangles of some wild and 
wind-swept sea. 

This hot hard flame with which our bodies burn 
Will make some meadow blaze with daffodil, 

Ay! and those argent breasts of thine will turn 
To water-lilies; the brown fields men till 


Will be more fruitful for our love to-night, 
Nothing is lost in nature, all things live in Death's 

The boy's first kiss, the hyacinth's first bell, 
The man's last passion, and the last red spear 

That from the lily leaps, the asphodel 

Which will not let its blossoms blow for fear 

Of too much beauty, and the timid shame 

Of the young bride-groom at his lover's eyes, — 
these with the same 

One sacrament are consecrate, the earth 
Not we alone hath passions hymeneal, 

The yellow buttercups that shake for mirth 
At daybreak know a pleasure not less real 

Than we do, when in some fresh blossoming wood, 

We draw the spring into our hearts, and feel 
that life is good. 

So when men bury us beneath the yew 
Thy crimson-stained mouth a rose will be, 

And thy soft eyes lush bluebells dimmed with dew, 
And when the white narcissus wantonly 


Kisses the wind its playmate some faint joy 
Will thrill our dust, and we will be again fond 
maid and boy. 

And thus without life's conscious torturing pain 
In some sweet flower we will feel the sun, 

And from the linnet's throat will sing again, 
And as two gorgeous-mailed snakes will run 

Over our graves, or as two tigers creep 

Through the hot jungle where the yellow-eyed 
huge lions sleep 

And give them battle! How my heart leaps up 
To think of that grand living after death 

In beast and bird and flower, when this cup, 
Being filled too full of spirits, bursts for breath, 

And with the pale leaves of some autumn day 

The soul earth's earliest conqueror becomes 
earth's last great prey. 

O think of it! We shall inform ourselves 
Into all sensuous life, the goat-foot Faun, 

The Centaur, or the merry bright-eyed Elves 
That leave their dancing rings to spite the dawn 


Upon the meadows, shall not be more near 
Than you and I to nature's mysteries, for we 
shall hear 

The thrush's heart beat, and the daisies grow, 
And the wan snowdrop sighing for the sun 

On sunless days in winter, we shall know 
By whom the silver gossamer is spun, 

Who paints the diapered fritillaries, 

On what wide wings from shivering pine to pine 
the eagle flies. 

Ay! had we never loved at all, who knows 
If yonder daffodil had lured the bee 

Into its gilded womb, or any rose 

Had hung with crimson lamps its little tree! 

Methinks no leaf would ever bud in spring, 

But for the lovers' lips that kiss, the poets' lips 
that sing. 

Is the light vanished from our golden sun, 
Or is this daedal-fashioned earth less fair, 

That we are nature's heritors, and one 

With every pulse of life that beats the air ? 


Rather new suns across the sky shall pass, 
New splendour come unto the flower, new 
glory to the grass. 

And we two lovers shall not sit afar, 
Critics of nature, but the joyous sea 

Shall be our raiment, and the bearded star 
Shoot arrows at our pleasure! We shall be 

Part of the mighty universal whole, 

And through all aeons mix and mingle with the 
Kosmic Soul! 

We shall be notes in that great Symphony 
Whose cadence circles through the rhythmic 

And all the live World's throbbing heart shall be 
One with our heart, the stealthy creeping years 

Have lost their terrors now, we shall not die, 

The Universe itself shall be our Immortality! 





THE sky is laced with fitful red, 
The circling mists and shadows flee, 
The dawn is rising from the sea, 
Like a white lady from her bed. 

And jagged brazen arrows fall 
Athwart the feathers of the night, 
And a long wave of yellow light 
Breaks silently on tower and hall, 

And spreading wide across the wold 
Wakes into flight some fluttering bird, 
And all the chestnut tops are stirred, 
And all the branches streaked with gold. 



HOW steep the stairs within Kings' houses are 
For exile-wearied feet as mine to tread, 
And O how salt and bitter is the bread 
Which falls from this Hound's table, — better far 
That I had died in the red ways of war, 
Or that the gate of Florence bare my head, 
Than to live thus, by all things comraded 
Which seek the essence of my soul to mar. 

"Curse God and die: what better hope than this? 
He hath forgotten thee in all the bliss 
Of his gold city, and eternal day' ' — 

Nay, peace: behind my prison's blinded bars 
I do possess what none can take away, 

My love, and all the glory of the stars. 



IS it thy will that I should wax ana wane, 
Barter my cloth of gold for hodden grey, 
And at thy pleasure weave that web of pain 

Whose brightest threads are each a wasted day ? 

Is it thy will — Love that I love so well — 

That my Soul's House should be a torture spot 

Wherein, like evil paramours, must dwell 

The quenchless flame, the worm that dieth not ? 

Nay, if it be thy will I shall endure, 

And sell ambition at the common mart, 

And let dull failure be my vestiture, 

And sorrow dig its grave within my heart. 

Perchance it may be better so — at least 

I have not made my heart a heart of stone, 

Nor starved my boyhood of its goodly feast, 
Nor walked where Beauty is a thing unknown. 


Many a man hath done so; sought to fence 

In straitened bonds the soul that should be free, 

Trodden the dusty road of common sense, 
While all the forest sang of liberty, 

Not marking how the spotted hawk in flight 
Passed on wide pinion through the lofty air, 

To where some steep untrodden mountain height 
Caught the last tresses of the Sun God's hair. 

Or how the little flower he trod upon, 

The daisy, that white-feathered shield of gold, 

Followed with wistful eyes the wandering sun 
Content if once its leaves were aureoled. 

But surely it is something to have been 

The best beloved for a little while, 
To have walked hand in hand with Love, and seen 

His purple wings flit once across thy smile. 

Ay! though the gorged asp of passion feed 

On my boy's heart, yet have I burst the bars, 

Stood face to face with Beauty, known indeed 
The Love which moves the Sun and all the stars! 



DEAR Heart I think the young impassioned priest 
When first he takes from out the hidden 
His God imprisoned in the Eucharist, 

And eats the bread, and drinks the dreadful wine, 

Feels not such awful wonder as I felt 

When first my smitten eyes beat full on thee, 

And all night long before thy feet I knelt 
Till thou wert wearied of Idolatry. 

Ah! had'st thou liked me less and loved me more, 
Through all those summer days of joy and rain, 

I had not now been sorrow's heritor, 
Or stood a lackey in the House of Pain. 

Yet, though remorse, youth's white-faced seneschal, 
Tread on my heels with all his retinue, 

I am most glad I loved thee — think of* all 

The suns that go to make one speedwell blue! 



AS oftentimes the too resplendent sun 
Hurries the pallid and reluctant moon 
Back to her sombre cave, ere she hath won 
A single ballad from the nightingale, 
So doth thy Beauty make my lips to fail, 
And all my sweetest singing out of tune. 

And as at dawn across the level mead 

On wings impetuous some wind will come, 

And with its too harsh kisses break the reed 
Which was its only instrument of song, 
So my too stormy passions work me wrong, 

And for excess of Love my Love is dumb. 

But surely unto Thee mine eyes did show 
Why I am silent, and my lute unstrung; 

Else it were better we should part, and go, 
Thou to some lips of sweeter melody, 
And I to nurse the barren memory 

Of unkissed kisses, and songs never sung. 



^ I ^HE wild bee reels from bough to bough 

-■- With his furry coat and his gauzy wing, 
Now in a lily-cup, and now 
Setting a jacinth bell a-swing, 
In his wandering; 
Sit closer love: it was here I trow 
I made that vow, 

Swore that two lives should be like one 
As long as the sea-gull loved the sea, 
As long as the sunflower sought the sun, — 
It shall be, I said, for eternity 
'Twixt you and me! 
Dear friend, those times are over and done, 
Love's web is spun. 

Look upward where the poplar trees 
Sway and sway in the summer air, 


Here in the valley never a breeze 
Scatters the thistledown, but there 

Great winds blow fair 
From the mighty murmuring mystical seas, 

And the wave-lashed leas. 

Look upward where the white gull screams, 

What does it see that we do not see ? 
Is that a star ? or the lamp that gleams 
On some outward voyaging argosy, — 
Ah! can it be 
We have lived our lives in a land of dreams! 
How sad it seems. 

Sweet, there is nothing left to say 
But this, that love is never lost, 
Keen winter stabs the breasts of May 
Whose crimson roses burst his frost, 
Ships tempest-tossed 
Will find a harbour in some bay, 
And so we may. 

And there is nothing left to do 
But to kiss once again, and part, 


Nay, there is nothing we should rue, 
I have my beauty, — you your Art, 

Nay, do not start, 
One world was not enough for two 

Like me and you. 



WITHIN this restless, hurried, modern world 
We took our heart's full pleasure — You and I 
And now the white sails of our ship are furled, 
And spent the lading of our argosy. 

Wherefore my cheeks before their time are wan, 

For very weeping is my gladness fled, 
Sorrow has paled my young mouth's vermilion, 

And Ruin draws the curtains of my bed. 

But all this crowded life has been to thee 
No more than lyre, or lute, or subtle spell 

Of viols, or the music of the sea 

That sleeps, a mimic echo, in the shell. 

[ J 94] 


TO stab my youth with desperate knives, to wear 
This paltry age's gaudy livery, 
To let each base hand filch my treasury, 
To mesh my soul within a woman's hair, 
And be mere Fortune's lackeyed groom, — I swear 
I love it not! these things are less to me 
Than the thin foam that frets upon the sea, 
Less than the thistle-down of summer air 
Which hath no seed: better to stand aloof 
Far from these slanderous fools who mock my life 
Knowing me not, better the lowliest roof 
Fit for the meanest hind to sojourn in, 
Than to go back to that hoarse cave of strife 
Where my white soul first kissed the mouth of sin. 




IT is full Winter now: the trees are bare, 
Save where the cattle huddle from the cold 
Beneath the pine, for it doth never wear 

The Autumn's gaudy livery whose gold 
Her jealous brother pilfers, but is true 
To the green doublet; bitter is the wind, as though 
it blew 

From Saturn's cave; a few thin wisps of hay 
Lie on the sharp black hedges, where the wain 

Dragged the sweet pillage of a summer's day 
From the low meadows up the narrow lane; 

Upon the half-thawed snow the bleating sheep 

Press close against the hurdles, and the shivering 
house-dogs creep 

From the shut stable to the frozen stream 
And back again disconsolate, and miss 


The bawling shepherds and the noisy team; 

And overhead in circling listlessness 
The cawing rooks whirl round the frosted stack, 
Or crowd the dripping boughs; and in the fen 
the ice-pools crack 

Where the gaunt bittern stalks among the reeds 
And flaps his wings, and stretches back his neck, 

And hoots to see the moon; across the meads 
Limps the poor frightened hare, a little speck; 

And a stray seamew with its fretful cry 

Flits like a sudden drift of snow against the dull 
grey sky. 

Full winter: and the lusty goodman brings 
His load of faggots from the chilly byre, 

And stamps his feet upon the hearth, and flings 
The sappy billets on the waning fire, 

And laughs to see the sudden lightening scare 

His children at their play; and yet, — the Spring 
is in the air, 

Already the slim crocus stirs the snow, 

And soon yon blanched fields will bloom again 


With nodding cowslips for some lad to mow, 

For with the first warm kisses of the rain 
The winter's icy sorrow breaks to tears, 
And the brown thrushes mate, and with bright 
eyes the rabbit peers 

From the dark warren where the fir-cones lie, 
And treads one snowdrop under foot, and runs 

Over the mossy knoll, and blackbirds fly 
Across our path at evening, and the suns 

Stay longer with us; ah! how good to see 

Grass-girdled Spring in all her joy of laughing 

Dance through the hedges till the early rose, 
(That sweet repentance of the thorny briar!) 

Burst from its sheathed emerald and disclose 
The little quivering disk of golden fire 

Which the bees know so well, for with it come 

Pale boy's-love, sops-in-wine, and dafFadillies all 
in bloom. 

Then up and down the field the sower goes, 
While close behind the laughing younker scares 


With shrilly whoop the black and thievish crows, 

And then the chestnut-tree its glory wears, 
And on the grass the creamy blossom falls 
In odorous excess, and faint half-whispered 

Steal from the bluebells' nodding carillons 
Each breezy morn, and then white jessamine, 

That star of its own heaven, snapdragons 
With lolling crimson tongues, and eglantine 

In dusty velvets clad usurp the bed 

And woodland empery, and when the lingering 
rose hath shed 

Red leaf by leaf its folded panoply, 

And pansies closed their purple-lidded eyes 9 

Chrysanthemums from gilded argosy 

Unload their gaudy scentless merchandise, 

And violets getting overbold withdraw 

From their shy nooks, and scarlet berries dot the 
leafless haw. 

O happy field! and O thrice happy tree! 

Soon will your queen in daisy-flowered smock 


And crown of flower-de-luce trip down the lea, 
Soon will the lazy shepherds drive their flock 
Back to the pasture by the pool, and soon 
Through the green leaves will float the hum of 
murmuring bees at noon. 

Soon will the glade be bright with bellamour, 
The flower which wantons love, and those sweet 
Vale-lilies in their snowy vestiture 

Will tell their beaded pearls, and carnations 
With mitred dusky leaves will scent the wind, 
And straggling traveller's joy each hedge with 
yellow stars will bind. 

Dear Bride of Nature and most bounteous Spring! 

That can'st give increase to the sweet-breath'd kine, 
And to the kid its little horns, and bring 

The soft and silky blossoms to the vine, 
Where is that old nepenthe which of yore 
Man got from poppy root and glossy-berried 

There was a time when any common bird 
Could make me sing in unison, a time 


When all the strings of boyish life were stirred 
To quick response or more melodious rhyme 
By every forest idyll; — do I change ? 
Or rather doth some evil thing through thy fair 
pleasaunce range ? 

Nay, nay, thou art the same: 'tis I who seek 
To vex with sighs thy simple solitude, 

And because fruitless tears bedew my cheek 
Would have thee weep with me in brotherhood; 

Fool! shall each wronged and restless spirit dare 

To taint such wine with the salt poison of his 
own despair! 

Thou art the same: 'tis I whose wretched soul 
Takes discontent to be its paramour, 

And gives its kingdom to the rude control 
Of what should be its servitor, — for sure 

Wisdom is somewhere, though the stormy sea 

Contain it not, and the huge deep answer, "'Tis 
not in me." 

To burn with one clear flame, to stand erect 
In natural honour, not to bend the knee 


In profitless prostrations whose effect 

Is by itself condemned, what alchemy 
Can teach me this ? what herb Medea brewed 
Will bring the unexultant peace of essence not 
subdued ? 

The minor chord which ends the harmony, 
And for its answering brother waits in vain 

Sobbing for incompleted melody, 

Dies a Swan's death; but I the heir of pain, 

A silent Memnon with blank lidless eyes, 

Wait for the light and music of those suns which 
never rise. 

The quenched-out torch, the lonely cypress-gloom, 
The little dust stored in the narrow urn, 

The gentle XAIPE of the Attic tomb, — 
Were not these better far than to return 

To my old fitful restless malady, 

Or spend my days within the voiceless cave of 
misery ? 

Nay! for perchance that poppy-crowned God 
Is like the watcher by a sick man's bed 


Who talks of sleep but gives it not; his rod 
Hath lost its virtue, and, when all is said, 
Death is too rude, too obvious a key 
To solve one single secret in a life's philosophy. 

And Love! that noble madness, whose august 

And inextinguishable might can slay 
The soul with honied drugs, — alas! I must 

From such sweet ruin play the runaway, 
Although too constant memory never can 
Forget the arched splendour of those brows 

Which for a little season made my youth 
So soft a swoon of exquisite indolence 

That all the chiding of more prudent Truth 
Seemed the thin voice of jealousy, — O Hence, 

Thou huntress deadlier than Artemis! 

Go seek some other quarry! for of thy too perilous 

My lips have drunk enough, — no more, no more, — 
Though Love himself should turn his gilded prow 

Back to the troubled waters of this shore 

Where I am wrecked and stranded, even now 


The chariot wheels of passion sweep too near, 
Hence! Hence! I pass unto a life more barren, 
more austere. 

More barren — ay, those arms will never lean 
Down through the trellised vines and draw my 
In sweet reluctance through the tangled green; 

Some other head must wear that aureole, 
For I am Hers who loves not any man 
Whose white and stainless bosom bears the sign 

Let Venus go and chuck her dainty page, 
And kiss his mouth, and toss his curly hair, 

With net and spear and hunting equipage 
Let young Adonis to his tryst repair, 

But me her fond and subtle-fashioned spell 

Delights no more, though I could win her dearest 

Ay, though I were that laughing shepherd boy 
Who from Mount Ida saw the little cloud 

Pass over Tenedos and lofty Troy 

And knew the coming of the Queen, and bowed 


In wonder at her feet, not for the sake 
Of a new Helen would I bid her hand the apple 

Then rise supreme Athena argent-limbed! 

And, if my lips be musicless, inspire 
At least my life: was not thy glory hymned 

By One who gave to thee his sword and lyre 
Like iBschylus at well-fought Marathon, 
And died to show that Milton's England still could 
bear a son! 

And yet I cannot tread the Portico 

And live without desire, fear, and pain, 

Or nurture that wise calm which long ago 
The grave Athenian master taught to men, 

Self-poised, self-centered, and self-comforted, 

To watch the world's vain phantasies go by with 
unbowed head. 

Alas! that serene brow, those eloquent lips, 
Those eyes that mirrored all eternity, 

Rest in their own Colonos, an eclipse 
Hath come on Wisdom, and Mnemosyne 


Is childless; in the night which she had made 
For lofty secure flight Athena's owl itself hath 

Nor much with Science do I care to climb, 
Although by strange and subtle witchery 

She draw the moon from heaven: the Muse of Time 
Unrolls her gorgeous-coloured tapestry 

To no less eager eyes; often indeed 

In the great epic of Polymnia's scroll I love to 

How Asia sent her myriad hosts to war 

Against a little town, and panoplied 
In gilded mail with jewelled scimitar, 

White-shielded, purple-crested, rode the Mede 
Between the waving poplars and the sea 
Which men call Artemisium, till he saw 

Its steep ravine spanned by a narrow wall, 

And on the nearer side a little brood 
Of careless lions holding festival! 

And stood amazed at such hardihood, 


And pitched his tent upon the reedy shore, 
And stayed two days to wonder, and then crept 
at midnight o'er 

Some unfrequented height, and coming down 
The autumn forests treacherously slew 

What Sparta held most dear and was the crown 
Of far Eurotas, and passed on, nor knew 

How God had staked an evil net for him 

In the small bay at Salamis, — and yet, the page 
grows dim, 

Its cadenced Greek delights me not, I feel 
With such a goodly time too out of tune 

To love it much: for like the Dial's wheel 
That from its blinded darkness strikes the noon 

Yet never sees the sun, so do my eyes 

Restlessly follow that which from my cheated 
vision flies. 

O for one grand unselfish simple life 
To teach us what is Wisdom! speak, ye hills 

Of lonely Helvellyn, for this note of strife 

Shunned your untroubled crags and crystal rills, 


Where is that Spirit which living blamelessly 
Yet dared to kiss the smitten mouth of his own 
century ! 

Speak ye Rydalian laurels! where is He 

Whose gentle head ye sheltered, that pure soul 

Whose gracious days of uncrowned majesty 

Through lowliest conduct touched the lofty goal 

Where Love and Duty mingle! Him at least 

The most high Laws were glad of, He had sat at 
Wisdom's feast; 

But we are Learning's changelings, know by rote 
The clarion watchword of each Grecian school 

And follow none, the flawless sword which smote 
The pagan Hydra is an effete tool 

Which we ourselves have blunted, what man now 

Shall scale the august ancient heights and to old 
Reverence bow ? 

One such indeed I saw, but, Ichabod! 

Gone is that last dear son of Italy, 
Who being man died for the sake of God, 

And whose unrisen bones sleep peacefully, 
O guard him, guard him well, my Giotto's tower, 
Thou marble lily of the lily town! let not the lour 


Of the rude tempest vex his slumber, or 
The Arno with its tawny troubled gold 

O'erleap its marge, no mightier conqueror 
Clomb the high Capitol in the days of old 

When Rome was indeed Rome, for Liberty 

Walked like a Bride beside him, at which sight 
pale Mystery 

Fled shrieking to her farthest sombrest cell 
With an old man who grabbled rusty keys, 

Fled shuddering for that immemorial knell 
With which oblivion buries dynasties 

Swept like a wounded eagle on the blast, 

As to the holy heart of Rome the great triumvir 

He knew the holiest heart and heights of Rome, 
He drave the base wolf from the lion's lair, 

And now lies dead by that empyreal dome 
Which overtops Valdarno hung in air 

By Brunelleschi — O Melpomene, 

Breathe through thy melancholy pipe thy sweetest 

Breathe through the tragic stops such melodies 
That Joy's self may grow jealous, and the Nine 


Forget a-while their discreet emperies, 

Mourning for him who on Rome's lordliest shrine 
Lit for men's lives the light of Marathon, 
And bare to sun-forgotten fields the fire of the sun! 

O guard him, guard him well, my Giotto's tower, 
Let some young Florentine each eventide 

Bring coronals of that enchanted flower 

Which the dim woods of Vallombrosa hide, 

And deck the marble tomb wherein he lies 

Whose soul is as some mighty orb unseen of 
mortal eyes. 

Some mighty orb whose cycled wanderings, 
Being tempest-driven to the farthest rim 

Where Chaos meets Creation and the wings 
Of the eternal chanting Cherubim 

Are pavilioned on Nothing, passed away 

Into a moonless void, — and yet, though he is dust 
and clay, 

He is not dead, the immemorial Fates 
Forbid it, and the closing shears refrain, 

Lift up your heads, ye everlasting gates! 
Ye argent clarions, sound a loftier strain! 


For the vile thing he hated lurks within 
Its sombre house, alone with God and memories 
of sin. 

Still what avails it that she sought her cave 
That murderous mother of red harlotries ? 

At Munich on the marble architrave 

The Grecian boys die smiling, but the seas 

Which wash iEgina fret in loneliness 

Not mirroring their beauty, so our lives grow 

For lack of our ideals, if one star 

Flame torch-like in the heavens the unjust 

Swift daylight kills it, and no trump of war 
Can wake to passionate voice the silent dust 

Which was Mazzini once! rich Niobe 

For all her stony sorrows hath her sons, but 

What Easter Day shall make her children rise, 
Who were not Gods yet suffered ? what sure feet 

Shall find their graveclothes folded ? what clear eyes 
Shall see them bodily ? O it were meet 


To roll the stone from off the sepulchre 
And kiss the bleeding roses of their wounds, in 
love of Her 

Our Italy! our mother visible! 

Most blessed among nations and most sad, 
For whose dear sake the young Calabrian fell 

That day at Aspromonte and was glad 
That in an age when God was bought and sold 
One man could die for Liberty! but we, burnt 
out and cold, 

See Honour smitten on the cheek and gyves 

Bind the sweet feet of Mercy: Poverty 
Creeps through our sunless lanes and with sharp 
Cuts the warm throats of children stealthily, 
And no word said:— O we are wretched men 
Unworthy of our great inheritance! where is the 

Of austere Milton ? where the mighty sword 
Which slew its master righteously ? the years 

Have lost their ancient leader, and no word 
Breaks from the voiceless tripod on our ears: 


While as a ruined mother in some spasm 
Bears a base child and loathes it, so our best 

Genders unlawful children, Anarchy 
Freedom's own Judas, the vile prodigal 

Licence who steals the gold of Liberty 
And yet has nothing, Ignorance the real 

One Fratricide since Cain, Envy the asp 

That stings itself to anguish, Avarice whose palsied 

Is in its extent stiffened, monied Greed 
For whose dull appetite men waste away 

Amid the whirr of wheels and are the seed 

Of things which slay their sower, these each day 

Sees rife in England, and the gentle feet 

Of Beauty tread no more the stones of each 
unlovely street. 

What even Cromwell spared is desecrated 
By weed and worm, left to the stormy play 

Of wind and beating snow, or renovated 

By more destructive hands: Time's worst decay 


Will wreathe its ruins with some loveliness, 
But these new Vandals can but make a rainproof 

Where is that Art which bade the Angels sing 
Through Lincoln's lofty choir, till the air 

Seems from such marble harmonies to ring 
With sweeter song than common lips can dare 

To draw from actual reed ? ah ! where is now 

The cunning hand which made the flowering 
hawthorn branches bow 

For Southwell's arch, and carved the House of One 
Who loved the lilies of the field with all 

Our dearest English flowers ? the same sun 
Rises for us: the seasons natural 

Weave the same tapestry of green and grey: 

The unchanged hills are with us: but that Spirit 
hath passed away. 

And yet perchance it may be better so, 
For Tyranny is an incestuous Queen, 

Murder her brother is her bedfellow, 

And the Plague chambers with her: in obscene 


And bloody paths her treacherous feet are set; 
Better the empty desert and a soul inviolate! 

For gentle brotherhood, the harmony 

Of living in the healthful air, the swift 
Clean beauty of strong limbs when men are free 
And women chaste, these are the things which 
Our souls up more than even Agnolo's 
Gaunt blinded Sibyl poring o'er the scroll of 
human woes, 

Or Titian's little maiden on the stair 
White as her own sweet lily, and as tall 

Or Mona Lisa smiling through her hair, — 
Ah! somehow life is bigger after all 

Than any painted Angel could we see 

The God that is within us! The old Greek 

Which curbs the passion of that level line 
Of marble youths, who with untroubled eyes 

And chastened limbs ride round Athena's shrine 
And mirror her divine economies, 


And balanced symmetry of what in man 
Would else wage ceaseless warfare, — this at least 
within the span 

Between our mother's kisses and the grave 
Might so inform our lives, that we could win 

Such mighty empires that from her cave 

Temptation would grow hoarse, and pallid Sin 

Would walk ashamed of his adulteries, 

And Passion creep from out the House of Lust 
with startled eyes. 

To make the Body and the Spirit one 

With all right things, till no thing live in vain 

From morn to noon, but in sweet unison 
With every pulse of flesh and throb of brain 

The Soul in flawless essence high enthroned, 

Against all outer vain attack invincibly bastioned, 

Mark with serene impartiality 

The strife of things, and yet be comforted, 
Knowing that by the chain causality 

All separate existences are wed 
Into one supreme whole, whose utterance 
Is joy, or holier praise! ah! surely this were 


Of life in most august omnipresence, 

Through which the rational intellect would find 

In passion its expression, and mere sense, 
Ignoble else, lend fire to the mind, 

And being joined with it in harmony 

More mystical than that which binds the stars 

Strike from their several tones one octave chord 
Whose cadence being measureless would fly 

Through all the circling spheres, then to its Lord 
Return refreshed with its new empery 

And more exultant power, — this indeed 

Could we but reach it were to find the last, the 
perfect creed. 

Ah! it was easy when the world was young 
To keep one's life free and inviolate, 

From our sad lips another song is rung, 
By our own hands our heads are desecrate, 

Wanderers in drear exile, and dispossessed 

Of what should be our own, we can but feed on 
wild unrest. 

Somehow the grace, the bloom of things has flown, 
And of all men we are most wretched who 


Must live each other's lives and not our own 

For very pity's sake and then undo 
All that we lived for — it was otherwise 
When soul and body seemed to blend in mystic 

But we have left those gentle haunts to pass 
With weary feet to the new Calvary, 

Where we behold, as one who in a glass 
Sees his own face, self-slain Humanity, 

And in the dumb reproach of that sad gaze 

Learn what an awful phantom the red hand of 
man can raise. 

O smitten mouth! O forehead crowned with thorn! 

O chalice of all common miseries! 
Thou for our sakes that loved thee not hast borne 

An agony of endless centuries, 
And we were vain and ignorant nor knew 
That when we stabbed thy heart it was our own 
real hearts we slew. 

Being ourselves the sowers and the seeds, 
The night that covers and the lights that fade, 

The spear that pierces and the side that bleeds, 
The lips betraying and the life betrayed; 


The deep hath calm: the moon hath rest: but we 
Lords of the natural world are yet our own dread 

Is this the end of all that primal force 

Which, in its changes being still the same, 
From eyeless Chaos cleft its upward course, 
Through ravenous seas and whirling rocks and 
Till the suns met in heaven and began 
Their cycles, and the morning stars sang, and 
the Word was Man! 

Nay, nay, we are but crucified, and though 

The bloody sweat falls from our brows like rain, 
Loosen the nails — we shall come down I know, 
Staunch the red wounds — we shall be whole 
No need have we of hyssop-laden rod, 
That which is purely human, that is Godlike, 
that is God. 




SWEET, I blame you not for mine the fault was, 
had I not been made of common clay 
I had climbed the higher heights unclimbed yet, 
seen the fuller air, the larger day. 

From the wildness of my wasted passion I had 

struck a better, clearer song, 
Lit some lighter light of freer freedom, battled 

with some Hydra-headed wrong. 

Had my lips been smitten into music by the 
kisses that but made them bleed, 

You had walked with Bice and the angels on 
that verdant and enamelled mead. 

I had trod the road which Dante treading saw 

the suns of seven circles shine, 
Ay! perchance had seen the heavens opening, 

as they opened to the Florentine. 


And the mighty nations would have crowned 

me, who am crownless now and without name, 

And some orient dawn had found me kneeling on 
the threshold of the House of Fame. 

I had sat within that marble circle where the 

oldest bard is as the young, 
And the pipe is ever dropping honey, and the 

lyre's strings are ever strung. 

Keats had lifted up his hymenaeal curls from out 

the poppy-seeded wine, 
With ambrosial mouth had kissed my forehead, 

clasped the hand of noble love in mine. 

And at springtide, when the apple-blossoms brush 

the burnished bosom of the dove, 
Two young lovers lying in an orchard would 

have read the story of our love. 

Would have read the legend of my passion, 
known the bitter secret of my heart, 

Kissed as we have kissed, but never parted as we 
two are fated now to part. 

For the crimson flower of our life is eaten by the 
canker-worm of truth, 


And no hand can gather up the fallen withered 
petals of the rose of youth. 

Yet I am not sorry that I loved you — ah! what 

else had I a boy to do, — 
For the hungry teeth of time devour, and the 

silent-footed years pursue. 

Rudderless, we drift athwart a tempest, and 
when once the storm of youth is past, 

Without lyre, without lute or chorus, Death the 
silent pilot comes at last. 

And within the grave there is no pleasure, for the 

blind-worm battens on the root, 
And Desire shudders into ashes, and the tree of 
' Passion bears no fruit. 

Ah! what else had I to do but love you, God's 
own mother was less dear to me, 

And less dear the Cytheraean rising like an argent 
lily from the sea. 

I have made my choice, have lived my poems, 

and, though youth is gone in wasted days, 

I have found the lover's crown of myrtle better 
than the poet's crown of bays. 




IN a dim corner of my room for longer than my 
fancy thinks 
A beautiful and silent Sphinx has watched me 
through the shifting gloom. 

Inviolate and immobile she does not rise, she does 

not stir 
For silver moons are naught to her and naught to 

her the suns that reel. 

Red follows grey across the air, the waves of moon- 
light ebb and flow 

But with the Dawn she does not go and in the 
night-time she is there. 

Dawn follows Dawn and Nights grow old and all 

the while this curious cat 
Lies couching on the Chinese mat with eyes of 

satin rimmed with gold. 


Upon the mat she lies and leers and on the tawny 

throat of her 
Flutters the soft and silky fur or ripples to her 

pointed ears. 

Come forth my lovely seneschal! so somnolent, 

so statuesque! 
Come forth you exquisite grotesque! half woman 

and half animal! 

Come forth my lovely languorous Sphinx! and 

put your head upon my knee! 
And let me stroke your throat and see your body 

spotted like the Lynx! 

And let me touch those curving claws of yellow 

ivory and grasp 
The tail that like a monstrous Asp coils round 

your heavy velvet paws! 


A THOUSAND weary centuries are thine while 
I have hardly seen 
Some twenty summers cast their green for Autumn's 
gaudy liveries. 

But you can read the Hieroglyphs on the great 

sandstone obelisks, 
And you have talked with Basilisks, and you have 

looked on Hippogriffs. 

O tell me, were you standing by when Isis to 

Osiris knelt? 
And did you watch the Egyptian melt her union 

for Antony 

And drink the jewel-drunken wine and bend her 

head in mimic awe 
To see the huge proconsul draw the salted tunny 

from the brine ? 

And did you mark the Cyprian kiss white Adon 

on his catafalque ? 
And did you follow Amenalk, the god of Heliopolis ? 


And did you talk with Thoth, and did you hear 

the moon-horned Io weep ? 
And know the painted kings who sleep beneath 

the wedge-shaped pyramid ? 


LIFT up your large black satin eyes which are 
like cushions where one sinks! 
Fawn at my feet fantastic Sphinx! and sing me 
all your memories! 

Sing to me of the Jewish maid who wandered with 

the Holy Child, 
And how you led them through the wild, and how 

they slept beneath your shade. 

Sing to me of that odorous green eve when 

couching by the marge 
You heard from Adrian's gilded barge the laughter 

of Antinous 

And lapped the stream and fed your drouth and 
watched with hot and hungry stare 

The ivory body of that rare young slave with 
his pomegranate mouth! 

Sing to me of the Labyrinth in which the twy- 
formed bull was stalled! 



Sing to me of the night you crawled across the 
temple's granite plinth 

When through the purple corridors the screaming 

scarlet Ibis flew 
In terror, and a horrid dew dripped from the 

moaning Mandragores, 

And the great torpid crocodile within the tank 

shed slimy tears, 
And tare the jewels from his ears and staggered back 

into the Nile, 

And the priests cursed you with shrill psalms as 
in your claws you seized their snake 

And crept away with it to slake your passion by 
the shuddering palms. 


WHO were your lovers ? who were they who 
wrestled for you in the dust ? 
Which was the vessel of your Lust ? What 
Leman had you, every day ? 

Did giant Lizards come and crouch before you 

on the reedy banks ? 
Did Gryphons with great metal flanks leap on you 

in your trampled couch ? 

Did monstrous hippopotami come sidling toward 

you in the mist ? 
Did gilt-scaled dragons writhe and twist with 

passion as you passed them by ? 

And from the brick-built Lycian tomb what 

horrible Chimaera came 
With fearful heads and fearful flame to breed 

new wonders from your womb ? 


OR had you shameful secret quests and did 
you harry to your home 
Some Nereid coiled in amber foam with curious 
rock crystal breasts ? 

Or did you treading through the froth call to 

the brown Sidonian 
For tidings of Leviathan, Leviathan or Behemoth ? 

Or did you when the sun was set climb up the 

cactus-covered slope 
To meet your swarthy Ethiop whose body was 

of polished jet ? 

Or did you while the earthen skiffs dropped 

down the grey Nilotic flats 
At twilight and the flickering bats flew round the 

temple's triple glyphs 

Steal to the border of the bar and swim across 

the silent lake 
And slink into the vault and make the Pyramid 

your lupanar 


Till from each black sarcophagus rose up the 

painted swathed dead ? 
Or did you lure unto your bed the ivory-horned 

Tragelaphos ? 

Or did you love the god of flies who plagued 
the Hebrews and was splashed 

With wine unto the waist ? or Pasht, who had 
green beryls for her eyes ? 

Or that young god, the Tyrian, who was more 

amorous than the dove 
Of Ashtaroth ? or did you love the god of the 


Whose wings, like strange transparent talc, rose 
high above his hawk-faced head, 

Painted with silver and with red and ribbed with 
rods of Oreichalch ? 

Or did huge Apis from his car leap down and 
lay before your feet 

Big blossoms of the honey-sweet and honey- 
coloured nenuphar? 

[239 1 

HOW subtle-secret is your smile! Did you love 
none then ? Nay, I know 
Great Ammon was your bedfellow! He lay with 
you beside the Nile! 

The river-horses in the slime trumpeted when they 

saw him come 
Odorous with Syrian galbanum and smeared with 

spikenard and with thyme. 

He came along the river-bank like some tall 

galley argent-sailed, 
He strode across the waters, mailed in beauty, 

and the waters sank. 

He strode across the desert sand: he reached the 

valley where you lay: 
He waited till the dawn of day: then touched 

your black breasts with his hand. 

You kissed his mouth with mouths of flame: 
you made the horned god your own: 


You stood behind him on his throne: you called 
him by his secret name. 

You whispered monstrous oracles into the caverns 

of his ears: 
With blood of goats and blood of steers you 
taught him monstrous miracles. 

White Ammon was your bedfellow! Your chamber 

was the steaming Nile! 
And with your curved archaic smile you watched 

his passion come and go. 


WITH Syrian oils his brows were bright: and 
widespread as a tent at noon 
His marble limbs made pale the moon and lent 
the day a larger light. 

His long hair was nine cubits' span and coloured 
like that yellow gem 

Which hidden in their garment's hem the mer- 
chants bring from Kurdistan. 

His face was as the must that lies upon a vat of 

new-made wine: 
The seas could not insapphirine the perfect azure 

of his eyes. 

His thick soft throat was white as milk and 
threaded with thin veins of blue: 

And curious pearls like frozen dew were broidered 
on his flowing silk. 

.242 J 

ON pearl and porphyry pedestalled he was too 
bright to look upon: 
For on his ivory breast there shone the wondrous 

That mystic moonlit jewel which some diver of 

the Colchian caves 
Had found beneath the blackening waves and 

carried to the Colchian witch. 

Before his gilded galiot ran naked vine-wreathed 

And lines of swaying elephants knelt down to draw 

his chariot, 

And lines of swarthy Nubians bare up his litter 

as he rode 
Down the great granite-paven road between the 
nodding peacock-fans. 

The merchants brought him steatite from Sidon 
in their painted ships: 

[ 2 43 ] 

The meanest cup that touched his lips was 
fashioned from a chrysolite. 

The merchants brought him cedar-chests of rich 

apparel bound with cords: 
His train was borne by Memphian lords: young 

kings were glad to be his guests. 

Ten hundred shaven priests did bow to Amnion's 

altar day and night, 
Ten hundred lamps did wave their light through 

Amnion's carven house — and now 

Foul snake and speckled adder with their young 
ones crawl from stone to stone 

For ruined is the house and prone the great rose- 
marble monolith! 

Wild ass or trotting jackal comes and couches 

in the mouldering gates: 
Wild satyrs call unto their mates across the 

fallen fluted drums. 

And on the summit of the pile the blue-faced ape 

of Horus sits 
And gibbers while the figtree splits the pillars 

of the peristyle. 


THE god is scattered here and there: deep 
hidden in the windy sand 
I saw his giant granite hand still clenched in 
impotent despair. 

And many a wandering caravan of stately negroes 

Crossing the desert, halts appalled before the 

neck that none can span. 

And many a bearded Bedouin draws back his 

yellow-striped burnous 
To gaze upon the Titan thews of him who was 

thy paladin. 


GO, seek his fragments on the moor and wash 
them in the evening dew, 
And from their pieces make anew thy mutilated 

Go, seek them where they lie alone and from 

their broken pieces make 
Thy bruised bedfellow! And wake mad passions 

in the senseless stone! 

Charm his dull ear with Syrian hymns ! he loved 

your body! oh, be kind, 
Pour spikenard on his hair, and wind soft rolls 

of linen round his limbs! 

Wind round his head the figured coins! stain 
with red fruits those pallid lips! 

Weave purple for his shrunken hips! and purple 
for his barren loins! 


AWAY to Egypt! Have no fear. Only one 
God has ever died. 
Only one God has let His side be wounded by 
a soldier's spear. 

But these, thy lovers, are not dead. Still by the 

hundred-cubit gate 
Dog-faced Anubis sits in state with lotus-lilies 

for thy head. 

Still from his chair of porphyry gaunt Memnon 

strains his lidless eyes 
Across the empty land, and cries each yellow 

morning unto thee. 

And Nilus with his broken horn lies in his black 

and oozy bed 
And till thy coming will not spread his waters 

on the withering corn* 

Your lovers are not dead, I know. They will 
rise up and hear your voice 


And clash their cymbals and rejoice and run to 
kiss your mouth! And so, 

Set wings upon your argosies! Set horses to your 

ebon car! 
Back to your Nile! Or if you are grown sick of 

dead divinities 

Follow some roving lion's spoor across the copper- 
coloured plain, 

Reach out and hale him by the mane and bid 
him be your paramour! 

Couch by his side upon the grass and set your 

white teeth in his throat 
And when you hear his dying note lash your 

long flanks of polished brass 

And take a tiger for your mate, whose amber 

sides are flecked with black, 
And ride upon his gilded back in triumph through 

the Theban gate, 

And toy with him in amorous jests, and when he 

turns, and snarls, and gnaws, 
O smite him with your jasper claws! and bruise 

him with your agate breasts! 


WHY are you tarrying? Get hence! I weary of 
your sullen ways, 
I weary of your steadfast gaze, your somnolent 

Your horrible and heavy breath makes the light 

flicker in the lamp, 
And on my brow I feel the damp and dreadful 

dews of night and death. 

Your eyes are like fantastic moons that shiver 

in some stagnant lake, 
Your tongue is like a scarlet snake that dances 

to fantastic tunes, 

Your pulse makes poisonous melodies, and your 

black throat is like the hole 
Left by some torch or burning coal on Saracenic 


Away! The sulphur-coloured stars are hurrying 
through the Western gate! 


Away! Or it may be too late to climb their 
silent silver cars! 

See, the dawn shivers round the grey gilt-dialled 

towers, and the rain 
Streams down each diamonded pane and blurs 

with tears the wannish day. 

What snake-tressed fury fresh from Hell, with 
uncouth gestures and unclean, 

Stole from the poppy-drowsy queen and led you 
to a student's cell ? 


WHAT songless tongueless ghost of sin crept 
through the curtains of the night, 
And saw my taper burning bright, and knocked, 
and bade you enter in. 

Are there not others more accursed, whiter with 

leprosies than I ? 
Are Abana and Pharpar dry that you come here 

to slake your thirst ? 

Get hence, you loathsome mystery! Hideous 

animal, get hence! 
You wake in me each bestial sense, you make 

me what I would not be. 

You make my creed a barren sham, you wake 

foul dreams of sensual life, 
And Atys with his blood-stained knife were better 

than the thing I am. 

False Sphinx! False Sphinx! By reedy Styx old 
Charon, leaning on his oar, 


Waits for my coin. Go thou before, and leave 
me to my crucifix, 

Whose pallid burden, sick with pain, watches the 

world with wearied eyes, 
And weeps for every soul that dies, and weeps 

for every soul in vain. 




I"E did not wear his scarlet coat, 
-*- ■*- For blood and wine are red, 
And blood and wine were on his hands 

When they found him with the dead, 
The poor dead woman whom he loved, 

And murdered in her bed. 

He walked amongst the Trial Men 

In a suit of shabby gray; 
A cricket cap was on his head, 

And his step seemed light and gay; 
But I never saw a man who looked 

So wistfully at the day. 

I never saw a man who looked 
With such a wistful eye 


Upon that little tent of blue 
Which prisoners call the sky, 

And at every drifting cloud that went 
With sails of silver by. 

I walked, with other souls in pain, 

Within another ring, 
And was wondering if the man had done 

A great or little thing, 
When a voice behind me whispered low, 

" That fellow's got to swing." 

Dear Christ! the very prison walls 

Suddenly seemed to reel, 
And the sky above my head became 

Like a casque of scorching steel; 
And, though I was a soul in pain, 

My pain I could not feel. 

I only knew what hunted thought 
Quickened his step, and why 

He looked upon the garish day 
With such a wistful eye; 

The man had killed the thing he loved, 
And so he had to die. 


Yet each man kills the thing he loves, 

By each let this be heard, 
Some do it with a bitter look, 

Some with a flattering word, 
The coward does it with a kiss, 

The brave man with a sword! 

Some kill their love when they are young, 
And some when they are old; 

Some strangle with the hands of Lust, 
Some with the hands of Gold: 

The kindest use a knife, because 
The dead so soon grow cold. 

Some love too little, some too long, 

Some sell, and others buy; 
Some do the deed with many tears, 

And some without a sigh: 
For each man kills the thing he loves, 

Yet each man does not die. 

He does not die a death of shame 

On a day of dark disgrace, 
Nor have a noose about his neck, 

Nor a cloth upon his face, 


Nor drop feet foremost through the floor 
Into an empty space. 

He does not sit with silent men 

Who watch him night and day; 
Who watch him when he tries to weep, 

And when he tries to pray; 
Who watch him lest himself should rob 

The prison of its prey. 

He does not wake at dawn to see 

Dread figures throng his room, 
The shivering Chaplain robed in white, 

The Sheriff stern with gloom, 
And the Governor all in shiny black, 

With the yellow face of Doom. 

He does not rise in piteous haste 

To put on convict-clothes, 
While some coarse-mouthed Doctor gloats, and 

Each new and nerve-twitched pose, 
Fingering a watch whose little ticks 

Are like horrible hammer-blows. 


He does not know that sickening thirst 
That sands one's throat, before 

The hangman with his gardener's gloves 
Slips through the padded door, 

And binds one with three leathern thongs, 
That the throat may thirst no more. 

He does not bend his head to hear 

The Burial Office read, 
Nor while the terror of his soul 

Tells him he is not dead, 
Cross his own coffin, as he moves 

Into the hideous shed. 

He does not stare upon the air 
Through a little roof of glass: 

He does not pray with lips of clay 
For his agony to pass; 

Nor feel upon his shuddering cheek 
The kiss of Caiaphas. 



0[ IX weeks our guardsman walked the yard, 
*^ In the suit of shabby gray: 
His cricket cap was on his head, 

And his step seemed light and gay, 
But I never saw a man who looked 

So wistfully at the day. 

I never saw a man who looked 

With such a wistful eye 
Upon that little tent of blue 

Which prisoners call the sky, 
And at every wandering cloud that trailed 

Its ravelled fleeces by. 

He did not wring his hands, as do 

Those witless men who dare 
To try to rear the changeling Hope 

In the cave of black Despair: 

[260 J 

He onlv looked upon the sun. 
And drank the morning air. 

He did not wring his hands nor weep, 

Xor did he peek or pine. 
But he drank the air as though it held 

Some healthful anodvne; 
With open mouth he drank the sun 

As though it had been wine! 

And I and all the souls in pain, 
Who tramped the other ring, 

Forgot if we ourselves had done 
A great or little thing, 

And watched with gaze of dull amaze 
The man who had to swing. 

And strange it was to see him pass 
\\ ith a step so light and gay, 

And strange it was to see him look 
So wistfully at the day, 

And strange it was to think that he 
Had such a debt to pay. 

For oak and elm have pleasant leaves 
That in the spring-time shoot: 


But grim to see is the gallows-tree, 

With its adder-bitten root, 
And, green or dry, a man must die 

Before it bears its fruit! 

The loftiest place is that seat of grace 
For which all worldlings try: 

But who would stand in hempen band 
Upon a scaffold high, 

And through a murderer's collar take 
His last look at the sky ? 

It is sweet to dance to violins 
When Love and Life are fair: 

To dance to flutes, to dance to lutes 
Is delicate and rare: 

But it is not sweet with nimble feet 
To dance upon the air! 

So with curious eyes and sick surmise 
We watched him day by day, 

And wondered if each one of us 
Would end the self-same way, 

For none can tell to what red Hell 
His sightless soul may stray. 


At last the dead man walked no more 

Amongst the Trial Men, 
And I knew that he was standing up 

In the black dock's dreadful pen, 
And that never would I see his face 

In God's sweet world again. 

Like two doomed ships that pass in storm 
We had crossed each other's way: 

But we made no sign, we said no word, 
We had no word to say; 

For we did not meet in the holy night, 
But in the shameful day. 

A prison wall was round us both, 

Two outcast men we were: 
The world had thrust us from its heart, 

And God from out His care: 
And the iron gin that waits for Sin 

Had caught us in its snare. 



IN Debtors' Yard the stones are hard, 
And the dripping wall is high, 
So it was there he took the air 

Beneath the leaden sky, 
And by each side a Warder walked, 
For fear the man might die. 

Or else he sat with those who watched 

His anguish night and day; 
Who watched him when he rose to weep, 

And when he crouched to pray; 
Who watched him lest himself should rob 

Their scaffold of its prey. 

The Governor was strong upon 

The Regulations Act: 
The Doctor said that Death was but 

A scientific fact: 
And twice a day the Chaplain called, 

And left a little tract. 


And twice a day he smoked his pipe, 
And drank his quart of beer: 

His soul was resolute, and held 
No hiding-place for fear; 

He often said that he was glad 
The hangman's hands were near. 

But why he said so strange a thing 

No Warder dared to ask: 
For he to whom a watcher's doom 

Is given as his task, 
Must set a lock upon his lips, 

And make his face a mask. 

Or else he might be moved, and try 

To comfort or console: 
And what should Human Pity do 

Pent up in Murderer's Hole ? 
What word of grace in such a place 

Could help a brother's soul ? 

With slouch and swing around the ring 

We trod the Fools' Parade! 
We did not care: we knew we were 

The Devil's Own Brigade: 
And shaven head and feet of lead 

Make a merry masquerade. 


We tore the tarry rope to shreds 

With blunt and bleeding nails; 
We rubbed the doors, and scrubbed the floors, 

And cleaned the shining rails: 
And, rank by rank, we soaped the plank, 

And clattered with the pails. 

We sewed the sacks, we broke the stones, 

We turned the dusty drill: 
We banged the tins, and bawled the hymns, 

And sweated on the mill: 
But in the heart of every man 

Terror was lying still. 

So still it lay that every day 

Crawled like a weed-clogged wave: 

And we forgot the bitter lot 
That waits for fool and knave, 

Till once, as we tramped in from work, 
We passed an open grave. 

With yawning mouth the yellow hole 

Gaped for a living thing; 
The very mud cried out for blood 

To the thirsty asphalte ring: 
And we knew that ere one dawn grew fair 

Some prisoner had to swing. 


Right in we went, with soul intent 
On Death and Dread and Doom: 

The hangman, with his little bag, 
Went shuffling through the gloom: 

And each man trembled as he crept 
Into his numbered tomb. 

That night the empty corridors 

Were full of forms of Fear, 
And up and down the iron town 

Stole feet we could not hear, 
And through the bars that hide the stars 

White faces seemed to peer. 

He lay as one who lies and dreams 

In a pleasant meadow-land, 
The watchers watched him as he slept, 

And could not understand 
How one could sleep so sweet a sleep 

With a hangman close at hand. 

But there is no sleep when men must weep 

Who never yet have wept: 
So we — the fool, the fraud, the knave — 

That endless vigil kept, 
And through each brain on hands of pain 

Another's terror crept. 


Alas! it is a fearful thing 

To feel another's guilt! 
For, right within, the sword of Sin 

Pierced to its poisoned hilt, 
And as molten lead were the tears we shed 

For the blood we had not spilt. 

The Warders with their shoes of felt 
Crept by each padlocked door, 

And peeped and saw, with eyes of awe, 
Gray figures on the floor, 

And wondered why men knelt to pray 
Who never prayed before. 

All through the night we knelt and prayed, 

Mad mourners of a corse! 
The troubled plumes of midnight were 

The plumes upon a hearse: 
And bitter wine upon a sponge 

Was the savour of Remorse. 

The gray cock crew, the red cock crew, 

But never came the day: 
And crooked shapes of Terror crouched, 

In the corners where we lay: 
And each evil sprite that walks by night 

Before us seemed to play. 

f 2 68l 

They glided past, they glided fast, 
Like travellers through a mist: 

They mocked the moon in a rigadoon 
Of delicate turn and twist, 

And with formal pace and loathsome grace 
The phantoms kept their tryst. 

With mop and mow, we saw them go, 

Slim shadows hand in hand: 
About, about, in ghostly rout 

They trod a saraband: 
And damned grotesques made arabesques, 

Like the wind upon the sand! 

With the pirouettes of marionettes, 
They tripped on pointed tread: 

But with flutes of Fear they filled the ear, 
As their grisly masque they led, 

And loud they sang, and long they sang, 
For they sang to wake the dead. 

"Oho!" they cried, "The world is wide, 

But fettered limbs go lame! 
And once, or twice, to throw the dice 

Is a gentlemanly game, 
But he does not win who plays with Sin 

In the Secret House of Shame." 


No things of air these antics were, 

That frolicked with such glee: 
To men whose lives were held in gyves, 

And whose feet might not go free, 
Ah! wounds of Christ! they were living things, 

Most terrible to see. 

Around, around, they waltzed and wound; 

Some wheeled in smirking pairs; 
With the mincing step of a demirep 

Some sidled up the stairs: 
And with subtle sneer, and fawning leer, 

Each helped us at our prayers. 

The morning wind began to moan, 

But still the night went on: 
Through its giant loom the web of gloom 

Crept till each thread was spun: 
And, as we prayed, we grew afraid 

Of the Justice of the Sun. 

The moaning wind went wandering round 

The weeping prison-wall: 
Till like a wheel of turning steel 

We felt the minutes crawl: 
O moaning wind! what have we done 

To have such a seneschal ? 


At last I saw the shadowed bars, 
Like a lattice wrought in lead, 

Move right across the whitewashed wall 
That faced my three-planked bed, 

And I knew that somewhere in the world 
God's dreadful dawn was red. 

At six o'clock we cleaned our cells, 

At seven all was still, 
But the sough and swing of a mighty wing 

The prison seemed to fill, 
For the Lord of Death with icy breath 

Had entered in to kill. 

He did not pass in purple pomp, 

Nor ride a moon-white steed. 
Three yards of cord and a sliding board 

Are all the gallows' need: 
So with rope of shame the Herald came 

To do the secret deed. 

We were as men who through a fen 

Of filthy darkness grope: 
We did not dare to breathe a prayer, 

Or to give our anguish scope: 
Something was dead in each of us, 

And what was dead was Hope. 


For Man's grim Justice goes its way, 

And will not swerve aside: 
It slays the weak, it slays the strong, 

It has a deadly stride: 
With iron heel it slays the strong, 

The monstrous parricide! 

We waited for the stroke of eight: 
Each tongue was thick with thirst: 

For the stroke of eight is the stroke of Fate 
That makes a man accursed, 

And Fate will use a running noose 
For the best man and the worst. 

We had no other thing to do, 

Save to wait for the sign to come: 

So, like things of stone in a valley lone, 
Quiet we sat and dumb: 

But each man's heart beat thick and quick, 
Like a madman on a drum! 

With sudden shock the prison-clock 

Smote on the shivering air, 
And from all the gaol rose up a wail 

Of impotent despair, 
Like the sound that frightened marshes hear 

From some leper in his lair. 

I 2 7 2 3 

And as one sees most fearful things 

In the crystal of a dream, 
We saw the greasy hempen rope 

Hooked to the blackened beam, 
And heard the prayer the hangman's snare 

Strangled into a scream. 

And all the woe that moved him so 

That he gave that bitter cry, 
And the wild regrets, and the bloody sweats, 

None knew so well as I: 
For he who lives more lives than one 

More deaths than one must die. 



THERE is no chapel on the day 
On which they hang a man: 
The Chaplain's heart is far too sick, 

Or his face is far too wan, 
Or there is that written in his eyes 
Which none should look upon. 

So they kept us close till nigh on noon, 

And then they rang the bell, 
And the Warders with their jingling keys 

Opened each listening cell, 
And down the iron stair we tramped, 

Each from his separate Hell. 

Out into God's sweet air we went, 

But not in wonted way, 
For this man's face was white with fear, 

And that man's face was gray, 
And I never saw sad men who looked 

So wistfully at the day. 


I never saw sad men who looked 

With such a wistful eye 
Upon that little tent of blue 

We prisoners called the sky, 
And at every careless cloud that passed 

In happy freedom by. 

But there were those amongst us all 
Who walked with downcast head, 

And knew that, had each got his due, 
They should have died instead: 

He had but killed a thing that lived, 
Whilst they had killed the dead. 

For he who sins a second time 

Wakes a dead soul to pain, 
And draws it from its spotted shroud, 

And makes it bleed again, 
And makes it bleed great gouts of blood, 

And makes it bleed in vain! 

Like ape or clown, in monstrous garb 
With crooked arrows starred, 

Silently we went round and round 
The slippery asphalte yard; 

Silently we went round and round, 
And no man spoke a word. 


Silently we went round and round, 
And through each hollow mind 

The Memory of dreadful things 
Rushed like a dreadful wind, 

And Horror stalked before each man, 
And Terror crept behind. 

The Warders strutted up and down, 
And kept their herd of brutes, 

Their uniforms were spick and span, 
And they wore their Sunday suits, 

But we knew the work they had been at, 
By the quicklime on their boots. 

For where a grave had opened wide, 

There was no grave at all: 
Only a stretch of mud and sand 

By the hideous prison-wall, 
And a little heap of burning lime, 

That the man should have his pall. 

For he has a pall, this wretched man, 

Such as few men can claim: 
Deep down below a prison-yard, 

Naked for greater shame, 
He lies, with fetters on each foot, 

Wrapt in a sheet of flame ! 


And all the while the burning lime 

Eats flesh and bone away, 
It eats the brittle bone by night, 

And the soft flesh by day, 
It eats the flesh and bone by turns, 

But it eats the heart alway. 

For three long years they will not sow 

Or root or seedling there: 
For three long years the unblessed spot 

Will sterile be and bare, 
And look upon the wondering sky 

With unreproachful stare. 

They think a murderer's heart would taint 

Each simple seed they sow. 
It is not true! God's kindly earth 

Is kindlier than men know, 
And the red rose would but blow more red, 

The white rose whiter blow. 

Out of his mouth a red, red rose ! 

Out of his heart a white! 
For who can say by what strange way, 

Christ brings His will to light, 
Since the barren staff the pilgrim bore 

Bloomed in the great Pope's sight ? 


But neither milk-white rose nor red 

May bloom in prison air; 
The shard, the pebble, and the flint, 

Are what they give us there: 
For flowers have been known to heal 

A common man's despair. 

So never will wine-red rose or white, 

Petal by petal, fall 
On that stretch of mud and sand that lies 

By the hideous prison-wall, 
To tell the men who tramp the yard 

That God's Son died for all. 

Yet though the hideous prison-wall 
Still hems him round and round, 

And a spirit may not walk by night 
That is with fetters bound, 

And a spirit may but weep that lies 
In such unholy ground, 

He is at peace — this wretched man — 

At peace, or will be soon: 
There is no thing to make him mad, 

Nor does Terror walk at noon, 
For the lampless Earth in which he lies 

Has neither Sun nor Moon. 


They hanged him as a beast is hanged: 

They did not even toll 
A requiem that might have brought 

Rest to his startled soul, 
But hurriedly they took him out, 

And hid him in a hole. 

They stripped him of his canvas clothes, 

And gave him to the flies: 
They mocked the swollen purple throat, 

And the stark and staring eyes: 
And with laughter loud they heaped the shroud 

In which their convict lies. 

The Chaplain would not kneel to pray 

By his dishonoured grave: 
Nor mark it with that blessed Cross 

That Christ for sinners gave, 
Because the man was one of those 

Whom Christ came down to save. 

Yet all is well; he has but passed 

To Life's appointed bourne: 
And alien tears will fill for him 

Pity's long-broken urn, 
For his mourners will be outcast men, 

And outcasts always mourn. 


I KNOW not whether Laws be right, 
Or whether Laws be wrong; 
All that we know who lie in gaol 

Is that the wall is strong; 
And that each day is like a year, 
A year whose days are long. 

But this I know, that every Law 
That men have made for Man, 

Since first Man took his brother's life, 
And the sad world began, 

But straws the wheat and saves the chaff 
With a most evil fan. 

This too I know — and wise it were 
If each could know the same — 

That every prison that men build 
Is built with bricks of shame, 

And bound with bars lest Christ should see 
How men their brothers maim. 


With bars they blur the gracious moon, 

And blind the goodly sun: 
And they do well to hide their Hell, 

For in it things are done 
That Son of God nor son of Man 

Ever should look upon! 

The vilest deeds like poison weeds 

Bloom well in prison-air: 
It is only what is good in Man 

That wastes and withers there: 
Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate, 

And the Warder is Despair. 

For they starve the little frightened child 
Till it weeps both night and day: 

And they scourge the weak, and flog the fool, 
And gibe the old and gray, 

And some grow mad, and all grow bad, 
And none a word may say. 

Each narrow cell in which we dwell 

Is a foul and dark latrine, 
And the fetid breath of living Death 

Chokes up each grated screen, 
And all, but Lust, is turned to dust 

In Humanity's machine. 


The brackish water that we drink 
Creeps with a loathsome slime, 

And the bitter bread they weigh in scales 
Is full of chalk and lime, 

And Sleep will not lie down, but walks 
Wild-eyed, and cries to Time. 

But though lean Hunger and green Thirst 

Like asp with adder fight, 
We have little care of prison fare, 

For what chills and kills outright 
Is that every stone one lifts by day 

Becomes one's heart by night. 

With midnight always in one's heart, 

And twilight in one's cell, 
We turn the crank, or tear the rope, 

Each in his separate Hell, 
And the silence is more awful far 

Than the sound of a brazen bell. 

And never a human voice comes near 

To speak a gentle word: 
And the eye that watches through the door 

Is pitiless and hard: 
And by all forgot, we rot and rot, 

With soul and body marred. 


And thus we rust Life's iron chain 

Degraded and alone: 
And some men curse, and some men weep, 

And some men make no moan: 
But God's eternal Laws are kind 

And break the heart of stone. 

And every human heart that breaks, 

In prison-cell or yard, 
Is as that broken box that gave 

Its treasure to the Lord, 
And filled the unclean leper's house 

With the scent of costliest nard. 

Ah! happy they whose hearts can break 

And peace of pardon win! 
How else may man make straight his plan 

And cleanse his soul from Sin ? 
How else but through a broken heart 

May Lord Christ enter in ? 

And he of the swollen purple throat, 
And the stark and staring eyes, 

Waits for the holy hands that took 
The Thief to Paradise; 

And a broken and a contrite heart 
The Lord will not despise. 


The man in red who reads the Law 

Gave him three weeks of life, 
Three little weeks in which to heal 

His soul of his soul's strife, 
And cleanse from every blot of blood 

The hand that held the knife. 

And with tears of blood he cleansed the hand, 

The hand that held the steel: 
For only blood can wipe out blood, 

And only tears can heal: 
And the crimson stain that was of Cain 

Became Christ's snow-white seal. 



IN Reading gaol by Reading town 
There is a pit of shame, 
And in it lies a wretched man 

Eaten by teeth of flame, 
In a burning winding-sheet he lies, 
And his grave has got no name. 

And there, till Christ call forth the dead, 

In silence let him lie: 
No need to waste the foolish tear, 

Or heave the windy sigh: 
The man had killed the thing he loved, 

And so he had to die. 

And all men kill the thing they love, 

By all let this be heard, 
Some do it with a bitter look, 

Some with a flattering word, 
The coward does it with a kiss, 

The brave man with a sword! 

C 3- 3- 




(for music) 

TN the glad spring time when leaves were green, 
■*■ O merrily the throstle sings! 
I sought, amid the tangled sheen, 
Love whom mine eyes had never seen, 
O the glad dove has golden wings! 

Between the blossoms red and white, 

O merrily the throstle sings! 
My love first came into my sight, 
O perfect vision of delight. 

O the glad dove has golden wings! 

The yellow apples glowed like fire, 

O merrily the throstle sings! 
O Love too great for lip or lyre, 
Blown rose of love and of desire, 

the glad dove has golden wings! 


But now with snow the tree is grey, 
Ah, sadly now the throstle sings! 

My love is dead: ah! well-a-day, 

See at her silent feet I lay 
A dove with broken wings! 
Ah, Love! ah, Love! that thou wert slain- 

Fond Dove, fond Dove, return again! 


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OWELL for him who lives at ease 
With garnered gold in wide domain, 
Nor heeds the splashing of the rain, 
The crashing down of forest trees. 

O well for him who ne'er hath known 
The travail of the hungry years, 
A father grey with grief and tears, 

A mother weeping all alone. 

But well for him whose foot hath trod 
The weary road of toil and strife, 
Yet from the sorrows of his life 

Builds ladders to be nearer God. 



fttov Qeplfav ware K&pmfJLOv ffT&xvv, 
koX rbv fxh ehcu rbv bk yd). 

THOU knowest all; I seek in vain 
What lands to till or sow with seed- 
The land is black with briar and weed, 
Nor cares for falling tears or rain. 

Thou knowest all; I sit and wait 

With blinded eyes and hands that fail, 
Till the last lifting of the veil 

And the first opening of the gate. 

Thou knowest all; I cannot see. 
I trust I shall not live in vain, 
I know that we shall meet again 

In some divine eternity. 



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kXclUw&s kc ddvyet. fipoTQv kclI tt6t^.ov 47rLo"trr} t 
tovt6 vv ko.1 y4pa$ olov 6i'£"i/po?<n ftpoT<n<Ti 
tcdpavQal re Kbp.t]v fiaktuv r' dirb ddKpv irapuQit* 

THERE is no peace beneath the noon. 
Ah! in those meadows is there peace 
Where, girdled with a silver fleece, 
As a bright shepherd, strays the moon ? 

Queen of the gardens of the sky, 

Where stars like lilies, white and fair, 
Shine through the mists of frosty air, 

Oh, tarry, for the dawn is nigh! 

Oh, tarry, for the envious day 

Stretches long hands to catch thy feet. 
Alas! but thou art over-fleet, 

Alas! I know thou wilt not stay. 


Up sprang the sun to run his race, 
The breeze blew fair on meadow and lea; 
But in the west I seemed to see 

The likeness of a human face. 

A linnet on the hawthorn spray 
Sang of the glories of the spring, 
And made the flow'ring copses ring 

With gladness for the new-born day. 

A lark from out the grass I trod 
Flew wildly, and was lost to view 
In the great seamless veil of blue 

That hangs before the face of God. 

The willow whispered overhead 
That death is but a newer life, 
And that with idle words of strife 

We bring dishonour on the dead. 

I took a branch from off the tree, 

And hawthorn-blossoms drenched with dew, 
I bound them with a sprig of yew, 

And made a garland fair to see. 


I laid the flowers where He lies, 

(Warm leaves and flowers on the stone); 

What joy I had to sit alone 
Till evening broke on tired eyes: 

Till all the shifting clouds had spun 
A robe of gold for God to wear, 
And into seas of purple air 

Sank the bright galley of the sun. 

Shall I be gladdened for the day, 
And let my inner heart be stirred 
By murmuring tree or song of bird, 

And sorrow at the wild wind's play ? 

Not so: such idle dreams belong 
To souls of lesser depth than mine; 
I feel that I am half divine; 

I know that I am great and strong. 

I know that every forest tree 
By labour rises from the root; 
I know that none shall gather fruit 

By sailing on the barren sea. 


(from a picture painted by miss v. t.) 

A FAIR slim boy not made for this world's pain, 
With hair of gold thick clustering round his ears, 
And longing eyes half veiled by foolish tears 
Like bluest water seen through mists of rain; 
Pale cheeks whereon no kiss hath left its stain, 
Red under-lip drawn in for fear of Love, 
And white throat whiter than the breast of dove — 
Alas ! alas ! if all should be in vain. 

Corn-fields behind, and reapers all a-row 
In weariest labour, toiling wearily, 
To no sweet sound of laughter, or of lute; 

And careless of the crimson sunset-glow 

The boy still dreams: nor knows that night is nigh: 
And in the night-time no man gathers fruit. 





THE lily's withered chalice falls 
Around its rod of dusty gold, 
And from the beech-trees on the wold 
The last wood-pigeon coos and calls. 

The gaudy leonine sunflower 

Hangs black and barren on its stalk, 
And down the windy garden walk 

The dead leaves scatter, — hour by hour. 

Pale privet-petals white as milk 
Are blown into a snowy mass: 
The roses lie upon the grass 

Like little shreds of crimson silk. 




A WHITE mist drifts across the shrouds, 
A wild moon in this wintry sky 
Gleams like an angry lion's eye 
Out of a mane of tawny clouds. 

The muffled steersman at the wheel 
Is but a shadow in the gloom; — 
And in the throbbing engine room 

Leap the long rods of polished steel. 

The shattered storm has left its trace 
Upon this huge and heaving dome, 
For the thin threads of yellow foam 

Float on the waves like ravelled lace. 



/^BEAUTIFUL star with the crimson mouth! 
^-^ O moon with the brows of gold ! 
Rise up, rise up, from the odorous south! 
And light for my love her way, 
Lest her little feet should stray 
On the windy hill and the wold! 
O beautiful star with the crimson mouth! 
O moon with the brows of gold! 

O ship that shakes on the desolate sea! 

O ship with the wet, white sail! 
Put in, put in, to the port to me! 
For my love and I would go 
To the land where the daffodils blow 
In the heart of a violet dale ! 
O ship that shakes on the desolate sea! 
O ship with the wet, white sail! 


O rapturous bird with the low, sweet note! 

O bird that sings on the spray! 
Sing on, sing on, from your soft brown throat! 
And my love in her little bed 
Will listen, and lift her head 
From the pillow, and come my way! 
O rapturous bird with the low, sweet note! 
O bird that sits on the spray! 

O blossom that hangs in the tremulous air! 

O blossom with lips of snow! 
Come down, come down, for my love to wear! 
You will die on her head in a crown, 
You will die in a fold of her gown, 
To her little light heart you will go! 
O blossom that hangs in the tremulous air! 
O blossom with lips of snow! 



WE caught the tread of dancing feet, 
We loitered down the moonlit street, 
And stopped beneath the harlot's house. 

Inside, above the din and fray, 
We heard the loud musicians play 
The "Treues Liebes Herz" of Strauss. 

Like strange mechanical grotesques, 

Making fantastic arabesques, 

The shadows raced across the blind. 

We watched the ghostly dancers spin 

To sound of horn and violin, 

Like black leaves wheeling in the wind. 

Like wire-pulled automatons, 

Slim silhouetted skeletons 

Went sidling through the slow quadrille, 

They took each other by the hand, 
And danced a stately saraband; 
Their laughter echoed thin and shrill. 

Sometimes a clockwork puppet pressed 
A phantom lover to her breast, 
Sometimes they seemed to try to sing. 

Sometimes a horrible marionette 
Came out, and smoked its cigarette 
Upon the steps like a live thing. 

Then, turning to my love, I said, 
"The dead are dancing with the dead, 
The dust is whirling with the dust." 

But she — she heard the violin, 
And left my side, and entered in: 
Love passed into the house of lust. 

Then suddenly the tune went false, 

The dancers wearied of the waltz, 

The shadows ceased to wheel and whirl. 

And down the long and silent street, 
The dawn, with silver-sandalled feet, 
Crept like a frightened girl. 



THIS winter air is keen and cold, 
And keen and cold this winter sun, 
But round my chair the children run 
Like little things of dancing gold. 

Sometimes about the painted kiosk 
The mimic soldiers strut and stride, 
Sometimes the blue-eyed brigands hide 

In the bleak tangles of the bosk. 

And sometimes, while the old nurse cons 
Her book, they steal across the square, 
And launch their paper navies where 

Huge Triton writhes in greenish bronze. 

And now in mimic flight they flee, 

And now they rush, a boisterous band — 
And, tiny hand on tiny hand, 

Climb up the black and leafless tree. 


Ah ! cruel tree ! if I were you, 

And children climbed me, for their sake 
Though it be winter I would break 

Into spring blossoms white and blue! 





UNDER the rose-tree's dancing shade 
There stands a little ivory girl, 
Pulling the leaves of pink and pearl 
With pale green nails of polished jade. 

The red leaves fall upon the mould, 
The white leaves flutter, one by one, 
Down to a blue bowl where the sun, 

Like a great dragon, writhes in gold. 

The white leaves float upon the air, 
The red leaves flutter idly down, 
Some fall upon her yellow gown, 

And some upon her raven hair. 


She takes an amber lute and sings, 
And as she sings a silver crane 
Begins his scarlet neck to strain, 

And flap his burnished metal wings. 

She takes a lute of amber bright, 
And from the thicket where he lies 
Her lover, with his almond eyes, 

Watches her movement in delight. 

And now she gives a cry of fear, 
And tiny tears begin to start: 
A thorn has wounded with its dart 

The pink-veined sea-shell of her ear. 

And now she laughs a merry note: 
There has fallen a petal of the rose 
Just where the yellow satin shows 

The blue-veined flower of her throat. 

With pale green nails of polished jade, 
Pulling the leaves of pink and pearl, 
There stands a little ivory girl 

Under the rose-tree's dancing shade. 




AGAINST these turbid turquoise skies 
The light and luminous balloons 
Dip and drift like satin moons, 
Drift like silken butterflies; 

Reel with every windy gust, 

Rise and reel like dancing girls, 
Float like strange transparent pearls, 

Fall and float like silver dust. 

Now to the low leaves they cling, 

Each with coy fantastic pose, 

Each a petal of a rose 
Straining at a gossamer string. 

Then to the tall trees they climb, 
Like thin globes of amethyst, 
Wandering opals keeping tryst 

With the rubies of the lime. 



T HAVE no store 

Of gryphon-guarded gold; 

Now, as before, 
Bare is the shepherd's fold. 

Rubies, nor pearls, 
Have I to gem thy throat; 

Yet woodland girls 
Have loved the shepherd's note. 

Then, pluck a reed 
And bid me sing to thee, 

For I would feed 
Thine ears with melody, 

Who art more fair 
Than fairest fleur-de-lys, 

More sweet and rare 
Than sweetest ambergris. 


What dost thou fear ? 
Young Hyacinth is slain, 

Pan is not here, 
And will not come again. 

No horned Faun 
Treads down the yellow leas, 

No God at dawn 
Steals through the olive trees. 

Hylas is dead, 
Nor will he e'er divine 

Those little red 
Rose-petalled lips of thine. 

On the high hill 
No ivory dryads play, 

Silver and still 
Sinks the sad autumn day. 



AN omnibus across the bridge 
Crawls like a yellow butterfly, 
And, here and there, a passer-by 
Shows like a little restless midge. 

Big barges full of yellow hay 
Are moved against the shadowy wharf, 
And, like a yellow silken scarf, 

The thick fog hangs along the quay. 

The yellow leaves begin to fade 
And flutter from the Temple elms, 
And at my feet the pale green Thames 

Lies like a rod of rippled jade. 



OUT of the mid-wood's twilight 
Into the meadow's dawn, 
Ivory limbed and brown-eyed, 
Flashes my Faun! 

He skips through the copses singing, 
And his shadow dances along, 

And I know not which I should follow, 
Shadow or song! 

O Hunter, snare me his shadow! 

Nightingale, catch me his strain! 
Else moonstruck with music and madness 

1 track him in vain! 



GO, little book, 
To him who, on a lute with horns of pearl, 
Sang of the white feet of the Golden Girl: 
And bid him look 
Into thy pages: it may hap that he 
May find that golden maidens dance through 


TO L. L. 

COULD we dig up this long-buried treasure, 
Were it worth the pleasure, 
We never could learn love's song, 
We are parted too long. 

Could the passionate past that is fled 

Call back its dead, 
Could we live it all over again, 

Were it worth the pain! 

I remember we used to meet 

By an ivied seat, 
And you warbled each pretty word 

With the air of a bird; 

And your voice had a quaver in it, 

Just like a linnet, 
And shook, as the blackbird's throat 

With its last big note; 


And your eyes, they were green and grey 

Like an April day, 
But lit into amethyst 

When I stooped and kissed; 

And your mouth, it would never smile 

For a long, long while, 
Then it rippled all over with laughter 

Five minutes after. 

You were always afraid of a shower, 

Just like a flower: 
I remember you started and ran 

When the rain began. 

I remember I never could catch you, 
For no one could match you, 

You had wonderful, luminous, fleet, 
Little wings to your feet. 

I remember your hair — did I tie it ? 

For it always ran riot — 
Like a tangled sunbeam of gold: 

These things are old. 


I remember so well the room, 

And the lilac bloom 
That beat at the dripping pane 

In the warm June rain; 

And the colour of your gown, 

It was amber-brown, 
And two yellow satin bows 

From your shoulders rose. 

And the handkerchief of French lace 
Which you held to your face — 

Had a small tear left a stain ? 
Or was it the rain ? 

On your hand as it waved adieu 

There were veins of blue; 
In your voice as it said good-bye 

Was a petulant cry, 

"You have only wasted your life. ,5 

(Ah, that was the knife!) 
When I rushed through the garden gate 

It was all too late. 


Could we live it over again, 

Were it worth the pain, 
Could the passionate past that is fled 

Call back its dead! 

Well, if my heart must break, 

Dear love, for your sake, 
It will break in music, I know, 

Poets' hearts break so. 

But strange that I was not told 

That the brain can hold 
In a tiny ivory cell 

God's heaven and hell. 



THESE are the letters which Endymion wrote 
To one he loved in secret, and apart. • 
And now the brawlers of the auction mart 
Bargain and bid for each poor blotted note, 
Aye! for each separate pulse of passion quote 
The merchant's price. I think they love not art 
Who break the crystal of a poet's heart 
That small and sickly eyes may glare and gloat. 

Is it not said that many years ago, 

In a far Eastern town, some soldiers ran 
With torches through the midnight, and began 

To wrangle for mean raiment, and to throw 
Dice for the garments of a wretched man, 

Not knowing the God's wonder, or His woe ? 



THE sin was mine; I did not understand. 
So now is music prisoned in her cave, 

Save where some ebbing desultory wave 
Frets with its restless whirls this meagre strand. 
And in the withered hollow of this land 

Hath summer dug herself so deep a grave, 

That hardly can the leaden willow crave 
One silver blossom from keen winter's hand. 
But who is this who cometh by the shore ? 
(Nay, love, look up and wonder!) Who is this 

Who cometh in dyed garments from the South ? 
It is thy new-found Lord, and he shall kiss 

The yet unravished roses of thy mouth, 
And I shall weep and worship, as before. 



/can write no stately proem 
As a prelude to my lay; 
From a poet to a poem 
I would dare to say. 

For if of these fallen petals 

One to you seem fair. 
Love will waft it till it settles 

On your hair. 

And when wind and winter harden 

All the loveless land, 
It will whisper of the garden, 

You will understand. 



('Apt<rTo0at>ovs Nc^Aai, 275-290, 298-313), 

CLOUD maidens that float on for ever, 
Dew-sprinkled, fleet bodies, and fair, 
Let us rise from our Sire's loud river, 
Great Ocean, and soar through the air 
To the peaks of the pine-covered mountains where 
the pines hang as tresses of hair. 
Let us seek the watch-towers undaunted, 

Where the well-watered corn-fields abound, 
And through murmurs of river nymph-haunted 
The songs of the sea-waves resound; 
And the sun in the sky never wearies of spreading 
his radiance around 
Let us cast off the haze 

Of the mists from our band, 
Till with far-seeing gaze 
We may look on the land. 

• • * • • • 



Cloud maidens that bring the rain-shower, 

To the Pallas-loved land let us wing, 
To the land of stout heroes and Power, 

Where Kekrops was hero and king, 
Where honour and silence is given 

To the mysteries that none may declare, 
Where are gifts to the high gods in heaven 

When the house of the gods is laid bare, 
Where are lofty roofed temples, and statues well 
carven and fair; 

Where are feasts to the happy immortals 
When the sacred procession draws near, 

Where garlands make bright the bright portals 
At all seasons and months in the year; 

And when spring days are here, 
Then we tread to the wine-god a measure, 

In Bacchanal dance and in pleasure, 
'Mid the contests of sweet singing choirs, 

And the crash of loud lyres. 



(Eur. Hec.y 444-483) 

Song sung by captive women of Troy on the sea beach at Aulis. while the 
Achaeans were there storm- bound through the wrath of dishonoured Achilles, and 
waiting for a fair wind to bring them home. 


OFAIR wind blowing from the sea! 
Who through the dark and mist dost guide 
The ships that on the billows ride, 

Unto what land, ah, misery! 
Shall I be borne, across what stormy wave, 
Or to whose house a purchased slave ? 

O sea-wind blowing fair and fast 
Is it unto the Dorian strand, 

Or to those far and fable shores, 
Where great Apidanus outpours 
His streams upon the fertile land, 
Or shall I tread the Phthian sand, 
Borne by the swift breath of the blast ? 



O blowing wind! you bring my sorrow near, 
For surely borne with splashing of the oar, 
And hidden in some galley-prison drear 
I shall be led unto that distant shore 

Where the tall palm-tree first took root, and made, 
With clustering laurel leaves, a pleasant shade 
For Leto when with travail great she bore 
A god and goddess in Love's bitter fight, 
Her body's anguish, and her soul's delight. 

It may be in Delos, 

Encircled of seas, 
I shall sing with some maids 

From the Cyclades, 
Of Artemis goddess 

And queen and maiden, 
Sing of the gold 

In her hair heavy-laden. 
Sing of her hunting, 

Her arrows and bow, 
And in singing find solace 

From weeping and woe. 



Or it may be my bitter doom 
To stand a handmaid at the loom, 
In distant Athens of supreme renown; 
And weave some wondrous tapestry, 
Or work in bright embroidery, 
Upon the crocus-flowered robe and saffron-coloured 
The flying horses wrought in gold, 
The silver chariot onward rolled 
That bears Athena through the Town; 
Or the warring giants that strove to climb 
From earth to heaven to reign as kings, 
And Zeus the conquering son of Time 
Borne on the hurricane's eagle wings; 
And the lightning flame and the bolts that fell 

From the risen cloud at the god's behest, 
And hurled the rebels to darkness of hell, 

To a sleep without slumber or waking or rest. 



Alas! our children's sorrow, and their pain 

In slavery. 
Alas! our warrior sires nobly slain 

For liberty. 
Alas! our country's glory, and the name 

Of Troy's fair town; 
By the lances and the fighting and the flame 

Tall Troy is down. 

I shall pass with my soul over-laden, 

To a land far away and unseen, 
For Asia is slave and handmaiden, 

Europa is Mistress and Queen. 
Without love, or love's holiest treasure, 

I shall pass into Hades abhorred, 
To the grave as my chamber of pleasure, 

To death as my Lover and Lord. 



(Lines n 40-1 173) 

[The scene is the court-yard at the Palace at Argos. Agamemnon has already entered 
the House of Doom, and Clytemnestra has followed close on his heels. Cassandra is 
left alone upon the stage. The conscious terror of death and the burden of prophecy 
lie heavy upon her; terrible signs and visions greet her approach. She sees blood upon 
the lintel, and the smell of blood scares her, as some bird, from the door. The ghosts 
of the murdered children come to mourn with her. Her second sight pierces the Palace 
walls; she sees the fatal bath, the trammelling net, and the axe sharpened for her own 
ruin and her lord's. 

But not even in the hour of her last anguish is Apollo merciful; her warnings are un- 
heeded, her prophetic utterances made mock of. 

The orchestra is filled with a chorus of old men weak, foolish, irresolute. They do 
not believe the weird woman of mystery till the hour for help is past, and the cry of 
Agamemnon echoes from the house, "Oh me! I am stricken with a stroke of death.") 


THY prophecies are but a lying tale, 
For cruel gods have brought thee to this state, 
And of thyself and thine own wretched fate 
Sing you this song and these unhallowed lays, 


Like the brown bird of grief insatiate 
Crying for sorrow of its dreary days; 

Crying for Itys, Itys, in the vale — 
The nightingale! The nightingale! 


Yet I would that to me they had given 

The fate of that singer so clear, 
Fleet wings to fly up unto heaven, 

Away from all mourning and fear; 

For ruin and slaughter await me — the cleaving 
with sword and the spear. 


Whence come these crowding fancies on thy brain, 

Sent by some god it may be, yet for naught ? 
Why dost thou sing with evil-tongued refrain, 
Moulding thy terrors to this hideous strain 

With shrill, sad cries, as if by death distraught ? 
Why dost thou tread that path of prophecy, 
Where, upon either hand, 
Landmarks for ever stand 
With horrid legend for all men to see ? 



O bitter bridegroom who didst bear 
Ruin to those that loved thee true! 

O holy stream Scamander, where 
With gentle nurturement I grew 
In the first days, when life and love were new. 

And now — and now—it seems that I must lie 
In the dark land that never sees the sun; 

Sing my sad songs of fruitless prophecy 

By the black stream Cokytos that doth run 
Through long, low hills of dreary Acheron. 


Ah, but thy word is clear! 
Even a child among men, 
Even a child might see 
What is lying hidden here. 
Ah! I am smitten deep 
To the heart with a deadly blow 
At the evil fate of the maid, 
At the cry of her song of woe! 
Sorrows for her to bear! 
Wonders for me to hear! 



O my poor land laid waste with flame and fire! 

O ruined city overthrown by fate! 
Ah, what availed the offerings of my Sire 

To keep the foreign foeman from the gate! 
Ah, what availed the herds of pasturing kine 
To save my country from the wrath divine! 

Ah, neither prayer nor priest availed aught, 
Nor the strong captains that so stoutly fought, 
For the tall town lies desolate and low. 

And I, the singer of this song of woe, 
Know, by the fire burning in my brain, 
That Death, the healer of all earthly pain, 

Is close at hand! I will not shirk the blow. 




I TOO have had my dreams: ay, known indeed 
The crowded visions of a fiery youth 
Which haunt me still. 

Methought that once I lay 
Within some garden close, what time the Spring 
Breaks like a bird from Winter, and the sky 
Is sapphire-vaulted. The pure air was soft, 
And the deep grass I lay on soft as air. 
The strange and secret life of the young trees 
Swelled in the green and tender bark, or burst 
To buds of sheathed emerald; violets 
Peered from their nooks of hiding, half afraid 
Of their own loveliness; the vermeil rose 
Opened its heart, and the bright star-flower 
Shone like a star of morning. Butterflies, 


In painted liveries of brown and gold, 

Took the shy bluebells as their pavilions 

And seats of pleasaunce; overhead a bird 

Made snow of all the blossoms as it flew 

To charm the woods with singing: the whole world 

Seemed waking to delight! 

And yet — and yet — 
My soul was filled with leaden heaviness: 
I had no joy in Nature; what to me, 
Ambition's slave, was crimson-stained rose 
Or the gold-sceptred crocus ? The bright bird 
Sang out of tune for me, and the sweet flowers 
Seemed but a pageant, and an unreal show 
That mocked my heart; for, like the fabled snake 
That stings itself to anguish, so I lay 
Self-tortured, self-tormented. 

The day crept 
Unheeded on the dial, till the sun 
Dropt, purple-sailed, into the gorgeous East, 
When, from the fiery heart of that great orb, 
Came One whose shape of beauty far outshone 
The most bright vision of this common earth. 

Girt was she in a robe more white than flame 
Or furnace-heated brass; upon her head 
She bare a laurel crown, and, like a star 
That falls from the high heaven suddenly, 
Passed to my side. 

Then kneeling low, I cried 
"O much-desired! O long-waited for! 
Immortal Glory! Great world-conqueror! 
Oh, let me not die crownless; once, at least, 
Let thine imperial laurels bind my brows, 
Ignoble else. Once let the clarion note 
And trump of loud ambition sound my name, 
And for the rest I care not." 

Then to me, 
In gentle voice, the angel made reply: 
"Child, ignorant of the true happiness, 
Nor knowing life's best wisdom, thou wert made 
For light and love and laughter, not to waste 
Thy youth in shooting arrows at the sun, 
Or nurturing that ambition in thy soul 
Whose deadly poison will infect thy heart, 
Marring all joy and gladness! Tarry here 


In the sweet confines of this garden-close 
Whose level meads and glades delectable 
Invite for pleasure; the wild bird that wakes 
These silent dells with sudden melody 
Shall be thy playmate; and each flower that blows 
Shall twine itself unbidden in thy hair — 
Garland more meet for thee than the dread weight 
Of Glory's laurel wreath." 

"Ah! fruitless gifts," 
I cried, unheeding of her prudent word, 
" Are all such mortal flowers, whose brief lives 
Are bounded by the dawn and setting sun. 
The anger of the noon can wound the rose, 
And the rain rob the crocus of its gold; 
But thine immortal coronal of Fame, 
Thy crown of deathless laurel, this alone 
Age cannot harm, nor winter's icy tooth 
Pierce to its hurt, nor common things profane." 
No answer made the angel, but her face 
Dimmed with the mists of pity. 

Then methought 
That from mine eyes, wherein ambition's torch 
Burned with its latest and most ardent flame, 
Flashed forth two level beams of straitened light, 


Beneath whose fulgent fires the laurel crown 
Twisted and curled, as when the Sirian star 
Withers the ripening corn, and one pale leaf 
Fell on my brow; and I leapt up and felt 
The mighty pulse of Fame, and heard far off 
The sound of many nations praising me! 

One fiery-coloured moment of great life! 
And then- — how barren was the nation's praise! 
How vain the trump of Glory! Bitter thorns 
Were in that laurel leaf, whose toothed barbs 
Burned and bit deep till fire and red flame 
Seemed to feed full upon my brain, and make 
The garden a bare desert. 

With wild hands 
I strove to tear it from my bleeding brow, 
But all in vain; and with a dolorous cry 
That paled the lingering stars before their time, 
I waked at last, and saw the timorous dawn 
Peer with grey face into my darkened room, 
And would have deemed it a mere idle dream 
But for this restless pain that gnaws my heart, 
And the red wounds of thorns upon my brow. 




A YEAR ago I breathed the Italian air, — 
And yet, methinks this northern Spring is fair,- 
These fields made golden with the flower of March, 
The throstle singing on the feathered larch, 
The cawing rooks, the wood-doves fluttering by, 
The little clouds that race across the sky; 
And fair the violet's gentle drooping head, 
The primrose, pale for love uncomforted, 
The rose that burgeons on the climbing briar, 
The crocus-bed, (that seems a moon of fire 
Round-girdled with a purple marriage-ring); 
And all the flowers of our English Spring, 
Fond snow-drops, and the bright-starred daffodil. 
Up starts the lark beside the murmuring mill, 
And breaks the gossamer-threads of early dew; 
And down the river, like a flame of blue, 
Keen as an arrow flies the water-king, 
While the brown linnets in the greenwood sing. 

[33 7 1 

A year ago! — it seems a little time 

Since last I saw that lordly southern clime, 

Where flower and fruit to purple radiance blow, 

And like bright lamps the fabled apples glow. 

Full Spring it was — and by rich flowering vines, 

Dark olive-groves and noble forest-pines, 

I rode at will; the moist glad air was sweet, 

The white road rang beneath my horse's feet, 

And musing on Ravenna's ancient name, 

I watched the day till, marked with wounds of flame, 

The turquoise sky to burnished gold was turned. 

O how my heart with boyish passion burned, 
When far away across the sedge and mere 
I saw that Holy City rising clear, 
Crowned with her crown of towers! — On and on 
I galloped, racing with the setting sun, 
And ere the crimson after-glow was passed, 
I stood within Ravenna's walls at last! 



How strangely still ! no sound of life or joy 
Startles the air; no laughing shepherd-boy 
Pipes on his reed, nor ever through the day 
Comes the glad sound of children at their play: 
O sad, and sweet, and silent! surely here 
A man might dwell apart from troublous fear, 
Watching the tide of seasons as they flow 
From amorous Spring to Winter's rain and snow, 
And have no thought of sorrow; — here, indeed, 
Are Lethe's waters, and that fatal weed 
Which makes a man forget his fatherland. 

Ay! amid lotus-meadows dost thou stand, 
Like Proserpine, with poppy-laden head, 
Guarding the holy ashes of the dead. 
For though thy brood of warrior sons hath ceased, 
Thy noble dead are with thee! — they at least 
Are faithful to thine honour: — guard them well, 
O childless city! for a mighty spell, 
To wake men's hearts to dreams of things sublime, 
Are the lone tombs where rest the Great of Time. 



Yon lonely pillar, rising on the plain, 
Marks where the bravest knight of France was slain, — 
The Prince of chivalry, the Lord of war, 
Gaston de Foix: for some untimely star 
Led him against thy city, and he fell, 
As falls some forest-lion fighting well. 
Taken from life while life and love were new, 
He lies beneath God's seamless veil of blue; 
Tall lance-like reeds wave sadly o'er his head, 
And oleanders bloom to deeper red, 
Where his bright youth flowed crimson on the ground. 

Look farther north unto that broken mound, — 
There, prisoned now within a lordly tomb 
Raised by a daughter's hand, in lonely gloom, 
Huge-limbed Theodoric, the Gothic king, 
Sleeps after all his weary conquering. 
Time hath not spared his ruin, — wind and rain 
Have broken down his stronghold; and again 
We see that Death is mighty lord of all, 
And king and clown to ashen dust must fall. 

[3 4 o] 

Mighty indeed their glory! yet to me 
Barbaric king, or knight of chivalry, 
Or the great queen herself, were poor and vain, 
Beside the grave where Dante rests from pain. 
His gilded shrine lies open to the air; 
And cunning sculptor's hands have carven there 
The calm white brow, as calm as earliest morn, 
The eyes that flashed with passionate love and 

The lips that sang of Heaven and of Hell, 
The almond-face which Giotto drew so well, 
The weary face of Dante; — to this day, 
Here in his place of resting, far away 
From Arno's yellow waters, rushing down 
Through the wide bridges of that fairy town, 
Where the tall tower of Giotto seems to rise 
A marble lily under sapphire skies! 
Alas! my Dante! thou hast known the pain 
Of meaner lives, — the exile's galling chain, 
How steep the stairs within kings' houses are, 
And all the petty miseries which mar 
Man's nobler nature with the sense of wrong. 
Yet this dull world is grateful for thy song; 
Our nations do thee homage, — even she, 

[3 4 i] 

That cruel queen of wine-clad Tuscany, 
Who bound with crown of thorns thy living brow, 
Hath decked thine empty tomb with laurels now, 
And begs in vain the ashes of her son. 

O mightiest exile ! all thy grief is done : 
Thy soul walks now beside thy Beatrice; 
Ravenna guards thine ashes: sleep in peace. 



How lone this palace is; how grey the walls! 
No minstrel now wakes echoes in these halls. 
The broken chain lies rusting on the door, 
And noisome weeds have split the marble floor: 
Here lurks the snake, and here the lizards run 
By the stone lions blinking in the sun. 
Byron dwelt here in love and revelry 
For two long years — a second Anthony, 
Who of the world another Actium made ! — 
Yet suffered not his royal soul to fade, 
Or lyre to break, or lance to grow less keen, 
'Neath any wiles of an Egyptian queen. 
For from the East there came a mighty cry, 
And Greece stood up to fight for Liberty, 
And called him from Ravenna: never knight 
Rode forth more nobly to wild scenes of fight! 
None fell more bravely on ensanguined field, 
Borne like a Spartan back upon his shield! 
O Hellas! Hellas! in thine hour of pride, 
Thy day of might, remember him who died 
To wrest from off thy limbs the trammelling chain: 


O Salamis! O lone Plataean plain! 
O tossing waves of wild Euboean sea! 
O wind-swept heights of lone Thermopylae! 
He loved you well — ay, not alone in word, 
Who freely gave to thee his lyre and sword, 
Like iEschylos at well-fought Marathon: 

And England, too, shall glory in her son, 
Her warrior-poet, first in song and fight. 
No longer now shall Slander's venomed spite 
Crawl like a snake across his perfect name, 
Or mar the lordly scutcheon of his fame. 

For as the olive-garland of the race, 
Which lights with joy each eager runner's face, 
As the red cross which saveth men in war, 
As a flame-bearded beacon seen from far 
By mariners upon a storm-tossed sea, — 
Such was his love for Greece and Liberty! 

Byron, thy crowns are ever fresh and green: 
Red leaves of rose from Sapphic Mitylene 
Shall bind thy brows; the myrtle blooms for thee, 
In hidden glades by lonely Castaly; 
The laurels wait thy coming: all are thine, 
And round thy head one perfect wreath will twine. 


The pine-tops rocked before the evening breeze 
With the hoarse murmur of the wintry seas, 
And the tall stems were streaked with amber bright;- 
I wandered through the wood in wild delight, 
Some startled bird, with fluttering wings and fleet, 
Made snow of all the blossoms : at my feet, 
Like silver crowns, the pale narcissi lav, 
And small birds sang on every twining spray. 
O waving trees, O forest liberty! 
Within your haunts at least a man is free, 
And half forgets the weary world of strife: 
The blood flows hotter, and a sense of life 
Wakes i' the quickening veins, while once again 
The woods are filled with gods we fancied slain. 
Long time I watched, and surely hoped to see 
Some goat-foot Pan make merry minstrelsy 
Amid the reeds! some startled Dryad-maid 
In girlish flight! or lurking in the glade, 
The soft brown limbs, the wanton treacherous face 


Of woodland god! Queen Dian in the chase, 
White-limbed and terrible, with look of pride, 
And leash of boar-hounds leaping at her side! 
Or Hylas mirrored in the perfect stream. 

O idle heart! O fond Hellenic dream! 
Ere long, with melancholy rise and swell, 
The evening chimes, the convent vesper-bell, 
Struck on mine ears amid the amorous flowers. 
Alas! alas! these sweet and honied hours 
Had 'whelmed my heart like some encroaching sea, 
And drowned all thoughts of black Gethsemane. 



O lone Ravenna! many a tale is told 
Of thy great glories in the days of old: 
Two thousand years have passed since thou didst see 
Caesar ride forth to royal victory. 
Mighty thy name when Rome's lean eagles flew 
From Britain's isles to far Euphrates blue; 
And of the peoples thou wast noble queen, 
Till in thy streets the Goth and Hun were seen. 
Discrowned by man, deserted by the sea, 
Thou sleepest, rocked in lonely misery! 
No longer now upon thy swelling tide, 
Pine-forest-like, thy myriad galleys ride! 
For where the brass-beaked ships were wont to float, 
The weary shepherd pipes his mournful note; 
And the white sheep are free to come and go 
Where Adria's purple waters used to flow. 

O fair! O sad! O Queen uncomforted! 
In ruined loveliness thou liest dead, 
Alone of all thy sisters; for at last 
Italia's royal warrior hath passed 


Rome's lordliest entrance, and hath worn his crown 
In the high temples of the Eternal Town! 
The Palatine hath welcomed back her king, 
And with his name the seven mountains ring! 

And Naples hath outlived her dream of pain, 
And mocks her tyrant! Venice lives again, 
New risen from the waters! and the cry 
Of Light and Truth, of Love and Liberty, 
Is heard in lordly Genoa, and where 
The marble spires of Milan wound the air, 
Rings from the Alps to the Sicilian shore, 
And Dante's dream is now a dream no more. 

But thou, Ravenna, better loved than all, 
Thy ruined palaces are but a pall 
That hides thy fallen greatness! and thy name 
Burns like a grey and flickering candle-flame, 
Beneath the noon-day splendour of the sun 
Of new Italia ! for the night is done, 
The night of dark oppression, and the day 
Hath dawned in passionate splendour: far away 
The Austrian hounds are hunted from the land, 
Beyond those ice-crowned citadels which stand 
Girdling the plain of royal Lombardy, 
From the far West unto the Eastern sea. 


I know, indeed, that sons of thine have died 
In Lissa's waters, by the mountain-side 
Of Aspromonte, on Novara's plain, — 
Nor have thy children died for thee in vain: 
And yet, methinks, thou hast not drunk this wine 
From grapes new-crushed of Liberty divine, 
Thou hast not followed that immortal Star 
Which leads the people forth to deeds of war. 
Weary of life, thou liest in silent sleep, 
As one who marks the lengthening shadows creep, 
Careless of all the hurrying hours that run, 
Mourning some day of glory, for the sun 
Of Freedom hath not shewn to thee his face, 
And thou hast caught no flambeau in the race. 

Yet wake not from thy slumbers, — rest thee well 5 
Amidst thy fields of amber asphodel, 
Thy lily-sprinkled meadows, — rest thee there, 
To mock all human greatness: who would dare 
To vent the paltry sorrows of his life 
Before thy ruins, or to praise the strife 
Of kings' ambition, and the barren pride 
Of warring nations! wert not thou the Bride 
Of the wild Lord of Adrians stormy sea! 
The Queen of double Empires! and to thee 


Were not the nations given as thy prey! 
And now — thy gates lie open night and day, 
The grass grows green on every tower and hall, 
The ghastly fig hath cleft thy bastioned wall; 
And where thy mailed warriors stood at rest 
The midnight owl hath made her secret nest. 
O fallen! fallen! from thy high estate, 
O city trammelled in the toils of Fate, 
Doth nought remain of all thy glorious days, 
But a dull shield, a crown of withered bays! 

Yet who beneath this night of wars and fears, 
From tranquil tower can watch the coming years; 
Who can foretell what joys the day shall bring, 
Or why before the dawn the linnets sing ? 
Thou, even thou, mayst wake, as wakes the rose 
To crimson splendour from its grave of snows; 
As the rich corn-fields rise to red and gold 
From these brown lands, now stiff with Winter's cold; 
As from the storm-rack comes a perfect star! 

O much-loved city! I have wandered far 
From the wave-circled islands of my home; 
Have seen the gloomy mystery of the Dome 
Rise slowly from the drear Campagna's way, 


Clothed in the royal purple of the day: 

I from the city of the violet crown 

Have watched the sun by Corinth's hill go down, 

And marked the " myriad laughter" of the sea 

From starlit hills of flower-starred Arcady; 

Yet back to thee returns my perfect love, 

As to its forest-nest the evening dove. 

O poet's city! one who scarce has seen 
Some twenty summers cast their doublets green, 
For Autumn's livery, would seek in vain 
To wake his lyre to sing a louder strain, 
Or tell thy days of glory; — poor indeed 
Is the low murmur of the shepherd's reed, 
Where the loud clarion's blast should shake the sky, 
And flame across the heavens! and to try 
Such lofty themes were folly; yet I know 
That never felt my heart a nobler glow 
Than when I woke the silence of thy street 
With clamorous trampling of my horse's feet, 
And saw the city which now I try to sing, 
After long days of weary travelling. 



Adieu, Ravenna! but a year ago, 
I stood and watched the crimson sunset glow 
From the lone chapel on thy marshy plain: 
The sky was as a shield that caught the stain 
Of blood and battle from the dying sun, 
And in the west the circling clouds had spun 
A royal robe, which some great God might wear, 
While into ocean-seas of purple air 
Sank the gold galley of the Lord of Light. 

Yet here the gentle stillness of the night 
Brings back the swelling tide of memory, 
And wakes again my passionate love for thee: 
Now is the Spring of Love, yet soon will come 
On meadow and tree the Summer's lordly bloom; 
And soon the grass with brighter flowers will blow, 
And send up lilies for some boy to mow. 
Then before long the Summer's conqueror, 
Rich Autumn-time, the season's userer, 
Will lend his hoarded gold to all the trees, 



And see it scattered by the spendthrift breeze; 
And after that the Winter cold and drear. 
So runs the perfect cycle of the year. 
And so from youth to manhood do we go, 
And fall to weary days and locks of snow. 
Love only knows no winter; never dies: 
Nor cares for frowning storms or leaden skies. 
And mine for thee shall never pass away, 
Though my weak lips may falter in my lay. 

Adieu! Adieu! yon silent evening star, 
The night's ambassador, doth gleam afar, 
And bid the shepherd bring his flocks to fold. 
Perchance before our inland seas of gold 
Are garnered by the reapers into sheaves, 
Perchance before I see the Autumn leaves, 
I may behold thy city; and lay down 
Low at thy feet the poet's laurel crown. 

Adieu! Adieu! yon silver lamp, the moon, 
Which turns our midnight into perfect noon, 
Doth surely light thy towers, guarding well 
Where Dante sleeps, where Byron loved to dwell. 

Ravenna, March, 1877. 
Oxford, March, 1878. 


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